Building Team Unity, Leadership Development

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Five years ago, University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery first brought instructors from “The Program” to Iowa City to work with his team.
Since 2011, the Hawkeyes have completed exercises to improve leadership, communications, and mental and physical toughness. The Program is a team-building and leadership development company that works with student-athletes and teams. The exercises strengthen personal development, leadership development, and team-building through shared adversity.
This year’s squad of 14 players completed a series of exercises Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning in Iowa City.
“This immediately sets the tone for this team,” said McCaffery. “It develops mental toughness, but more importantly, it really emphasizes how you care for one another, what a team is supposed to be and how you compete, how you lead and when you do it.”
Freshman Cordell Pemsl did not know what to expect coming into the exercises, but expressed gratitude to the coaching staff and instructors for putting the team through the different challenges.
“We took it one step at a time, figuring out what we needed to do as a team both mentally and physically in order to excel at our highest capability,” said Pemsl. “Looking back after completing the tasks, we realized how much closer it brought us. It was a good experience for us to be able to go out there and accomplish things that we knew was going to take a toll on us mentally.”
Classmate Tyler Cook said that The Program boosted everyone’s leadership and communication skills.
“The main concept was to learn how to be leaders and learn how to communicate effectively with your teammates,” Cook said.
Every exercise was tailored to help the team become better leaders in times of adversity. Developing an attack mindest, and projecting confidence are stressed during the course of the training. Pemsl believes the team is collectively better now due to taking part of The Program.  
“It was a great experience; all of us absorbed what the instructors taught us,” added Pemsl. “As long as we take what we learned the last two days and apply them into our workouts, our practices, and in a couple months our games, we will keep getting better moving forward.”
For more information about The Program, visit