Olympic coaches from around the globe had world-class training opportunities to boost their knowledge and expertise through the International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program (ICECP) held at the University of Delaware this past fall.
Now in its third consecutive year, the program, which is a partnership of UD, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and Olympic Solidarity, welcomed 21 national coaches representing five continents, 21 countries and 10 sports.
Just as the interlocking Olympic rings symbolize the friendships that athletes make through these athletic competitions, the ICECP focuses on assisting coaches in building their skills in a collegial way, according to USOC‚chief executive officer Scott Blackmun.
"ICECP is aimed at helping coaches develop proficiency in a wide variety of coaching skills and at all levels of competition in order to help them further develop the coaching infrastructure in their home countries," Blackmun noted.
The effort, which Blackmun calls a "world-class coaching education program," consists of lectures, guest speakers, participant presentations, group work and field trips.
Through the course of approximately six weeks, the ICECP educates national level coaches on topics ranging from sport nutrition, sport medicine, injury management and prevention, to sport psychology and physiology, sport administration and coaching methods. The intended outcome for participants is that they are able to return to their countries to not only serve as coaches within their respective sports, but to also serve as foundation builders for future coaches and athletes while spreading the Olympic spirit.
Matthew Robinson, professor of business administration and director of the UD sport management program, and Jeff Schneider, director of strength and conditioning at the University's High Performance Figure Skating Center, direct the ICECP and have been leaders in its development.
Robinson and Schneider both possess a wealth of international sport management experience. Robinson worked for the U.S. Department of State in the area of sport diplomacy in 2008, while Schneider has worked with numerous national, world and Olympic-level figure skaters.
In order to cover the latest technical methods of various sports and to teach coaches how to incorporate within the training of their athletes the use of physiology, nutrition, psychology and other technologies, the ICECP offers a structured, comprehensive and in-depth course of study through four modules, Robinson said.
During the first module, participants spend two weeks at UD and attend lectures and presentations from experts on a variety of coaching education and sports science topics.
The second module is a sport-specific apprenticeship that allows participants to observe and interact with coaches from national governing bodies, university athletic teams or elite sport clubs in each of their respective sports. In conjunction with the apprenticeship, coaches also develop a project aimed at improving their national coaching infrastructure with the support of an international coaching expert.
Participating in an apprenticeship offers coaches in the ICECP the unique opportunity to train at leading sport facilities like the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, home of Bob Bowman and Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, and the USA Volleyball Men's and Women's Training Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The third module takes place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and headquarters in Colorado Springs and consists of a continuation of lectures and group work activities during a two-week period taught by USOC sport performance and coaching experts.
In the final module, participants present the projects they completed over the course of the program to the ICECP Academic Board and thereafter undergo a public presentation of their projects at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Hank Steinbrecher, who served as CEO and secretary general of U.S. Soccer during the sport's rise to prominence in America in the 1990s and a distinguished sports statesman, served as the keynote speaker during the ICECP opening ceremony, which was held in early October 2010 on the UD campus in Newark. His speech focused on the power of sport.
"You can change lives," Steinbrecher told the participant coaches during his speech. "Through sport, coaches have the ability to transcend life values, cultural boundaries and make the world a better place."
Robinson noted, "The faculty, the coaches and staff in Intercollegiate Athletics and the staff and leadership of the Institute for Global Studies have been incredible. We have a committed and passionate group of participants who will return to their native countries to impact the grassroots levels all the way up to the highest levels of competition in their respective sports. We cannot be prouder or more excited about working with the ICECP group."