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The Need for More Mentors: How TeamMates is Changing Lives


hen Nebraska legend Tom Osborne pulled into Sioux Falls this January in his SUV, it wasn’t for some football prep camp or glitzy fundraiser. It was to help launch Sioux Falls TeamMates, a mentoring program he founded and believes very deeply in. The launch of TeamMates was in conjunction with National Mentoring Month and the City of Sioux Falls’ call to encourage more citizens to mentor. The program began in 1991. As the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program, Osborne was mentoring young men year round. He saw first hand the power of what mentoring could accomplish. Coach Osborne felt the athletes in his program could make an impact on the students. He and his wife, Nancy Osborne, started the TeamMates Mentoring Program with 22 University of NebraskaLincoln football players and 22 Lincoln middle school students. Of the original mentees, 21 went on to graduate from high school while one left school early to pursue a successful Motocross career. Eighteen of those original mentees also went on to pursue a post-secondary education. Coaches always want to see results. So, it’s no surprise that TeamMates is very focused on outcomes. Statistically, 75 percent of TeamMates mentees had fewer unexcused absences. 84 percent of TeamMates mentees experienced fewer disciplinary referrals. 55 percent of TeamMates mentees improved their academic performance Today, the program serves thousands of boys and girls across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming and South Dakota with mentors and mentees from all walks of life. Last year, TeamMates served more than 10,000 youth in more than 170 communities. TeamMates is a school-based, one-to-one mentoring program. The focus of the mentoring relationship is for an adult volunteer

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to help build a positive relationship with a student to help them reach their full potential. Lora Hayes, Sioux Falls TeamMates Executive Director says, “We are proud to bring this partnership to Sioux Falls. The value of mentoring and the outcomes it produces are indisputable. Youth really excel when mentored.” “We find time to put the most important things into our busy schedules,” added Nick Ovenden, President of GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Club. “Mentoring is that important. As a leader and mentor, I feel that it’s vital I lead by example and show my team that there’s no better investment than giving my time to help others. That’s why as a company, we are committed to giving our team members the flexibility to mentor weekly during the day.” GreatLIFE Cares Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Club joins the partnership with TeamMates to serve local elementary, middle and high school students in the Sioux Falls School District. Together with the district, they are working to address the several hundred students who are currently on a waiting list for mentors. “Every young person deserves to have someone to turn to,” says GreatLIFE CEO/HCL Tom Walsh Sr. “The mission of the TeamMates mentoring program is to impact the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential.” Mentors meet with their mentees one-on-one in school, once a week, during the academic year. They help students identify their gifts and talents, play games and spend time just talking. Mentors are matched with mentees based on interests and life experiences. The program aims to match all kids who desire a mentor. If you’re ready to make a difference by mentoring, go to https://teammates. org/become-a-mentor. To learn more about TeamMates you can check out the website at SiouxFallsTeamMates.org.

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