Coach P Calls on Kids, Athletes to Make Smart Choices about Underage Drinking

By Joanne P. McCallie (“Coach P”)

Recruits often ask me what it takes to succeed in an elite college basketball program. These young women are among the finest athletes in the nation, but athletic ability alone won’t earn you a spot on my team.

There’s another factor that’s equally important in my book: a proven ability to make smart choices, and to take accountability for your decisions.

Unfortunately, far too many young women and men simply aren’t making smart choices off the court. They’re not focusing on their academic work. They’re not taking care of their body and mind. They’re experimenting with drugs. Or they’re drinking underage.

I’ve learned in my career that bad choices off the court like these almost always have a direct impact in on-the-court performance, and on our team’s locker room chemistry.

In addition to being a coach, I’m also a mother. I’ve got a 21-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son. Throughout their entire lives, I have stressed the importance of shaping their own destinies by making smart choices. In fact, that’s my motto for life, both on and off the court: it’s about choice, not chance. In order to make smart choices, our children need to be educated, on the real consequences of the decisions they make, and how those consequences can stay with them forever.

That’s why I’m such a big proponent of the Talk It Out NC campaign, which educates parents and kids about the dangers of underage drinking, and encourages them to talk with each other about the issue openly, honestly and often.

I’ve joined together with other college coaches in North Carolina to shine a light on the Talk It Out campaign, and to help spread its important message statewide to middle and high schoolers, along with their parents. As coaches, we’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of alcohol on the minds and bodies of promising athletes.

So we’re hoping that by speaking out, we can use our influence to steer our youth in the right direction.

We all understand the challenges facing kids today. Kids have to be brave. Let’s empower them. If our youth can make the right choices, we can make our great state even stronger.

Please join me in supporting Talk It Out. Visit the website today and start a discussion with your children.

Joanne P. McCallie is the head coach of the Duke University Women’s Basketball Team and author of the book “Choice Not Chance.”