The New York Giants officially launched their partnership with the NFL Foundation last month to bring the InSideOut Initiative (ISOI) to Section One. Athletic administrators from 77 high schools across Rockland, Westchester, Duchess and Putnam counties gathered at MetLife Stadium for a kickoff event.
The Giants are proud to continue their relationship with Section One following the inaugural season of girls flag football, founded in conjunction with the New York Public School Athletic Association (NYPSAA). The ISOI partnership grew out of Section One Executive Director Todd Santabarbara's interest in maintaining the momentum of diversity and inclusion in interscholastic athletics. The Giants will continue to serve Section One as the athletic directors guide their communities through the three-year process that ISOI outlines.
Established in 2015, the InSideOut Initiative is a non-profit that strives to inspire and equip school leaders and communities to transform lives through purpose-based sports. In its seven years, the organization has partnered with 20 NFL teams across 17 states. Co-founders Joe Herman and Jody Redman are passion-driven leaders who recognize the importance of "leading from the middle." In doing so, they work with athletic administrators to implement their philosophy.
Eli Manning, legendary Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP, addressed Section One administrators to emphasize how youth athletics positively influenced his own development and personal success.
Manning reflected on his upbringing as a three-sport athlete, sharing that athletic endeavors helped him to build confidence off the field. Contrary to conventional wisdom, his father did not embrace sports to develop star quarterbacks. Rather he appreciated sports "for the life lessons that they teach."
"They gave me confidence and they helped me make friends," Manning said.
He grew to understand the bigger picture.
"I think (sports and academics) go hand in hand. I think being a better athlete or getting into team sports can make you a better student." Manning said.
Manning credited his high school basketball coach in particular for stressing dedication and commitment.
In the last decade, Manning has developed a new relationship with youth sports. As a father of four, he spoke about the continued correlation he identifies in his own children's lives. Their coaches highlight the important of teamwork, which extends into academia and beyond.
Manning's message personified ISOI's primary objective, as outlined by Ehrmann and Redman. Redman shared that working with athletic administrators is beneficial because "any work that is going to happen within the school community is done in relationship." By establishing a connection with those directly responsible for the interscholastic culture, Ehrmann and Redman strategically incorporate their philosophy.
Each place of implementation – defined as awareness, alignment, action and accountability – takes an intentional approach. Athletic administrators introduce ISOI, and the alignment component integrates the larger community: leadership, school board superintendents, principals, down through the parent and the student-athlete. Action strives to unlock the "human potential" of each student-athlete, and accountability evaluates the scope of stakeholders and their responsibility to sustain progress.
Russ Reetz, AD partner of ISOI since 2015, attested to the tangible impact of the program.
"It has changed first who I am as a husband and a father and a friend and colleague – certainly who I am as a coach and athletic director," Reetz said. "What it's really done, and what I hope to help you do is, it's change how I hire. It's changed how I develop and evaluate coaches – the people that are in front of our students every day."
Ethan Medley, Director of Community Relations & Youth Football, recognized the power of ISOI's mission.
"There's no doubt about the impact that we're making here," Medley said. "Relationship matters to us. The most powerful things we do are those moments where we can remain in relationship and have an impact for a long period of time. That's very special to us."