Braeden Mueller
ASU Student Journalist

Tolleson Wolverines teach character during "Pride Period"

October 25, 2017 by Braeden Mueller , Arizona State University

“Build Champions for Life” is the motto for Jason Wilke and the Tolleson Wolverines. For Wilke, this means building champions on and off the field.

On the field, this means teaching the players class, sportsmanship and respect. Off the field, teaching is by the “Pride Period,” a weekly character session that focuses on character development.

“Character development and education is a must we believe to achieve greatness in life,” Wilke said.

Started 12 years ago, the character development sessions began. Once a week, the entire football program gathers for 40 minutes where the focus is on one word for development.

When the sessions started, there was hesitation and skepticism from the players about the program. Not every play bought into this development program, but now at the end of the season, they realize the importance.

“When the sessions first started, I didn’t know what to expect, but the more and more our weekly sessions went on, the more I bought into it and realized how much these sessions helped both individually and as a team,” Patrick Ortega said.

For the team, these sessions also come with an incentive, each week a player is named “Character Player of the Week.” This player is someone who exemplifies the word that the lesson was preaching, and at the end of the year there is a “Character Player of the Year” award too, chosen by the team.

Although the awards are nice to have, the impact of the sessions is more meaningful. For the leaders on the team, these meetings have given them valuable tools to lead the team through the long season

“A major lesson that I've learned from the sessions is to have a great attitude in anything that you do. Having a good attitude will allow you to look at a task with a purpose and give u a great push to get it done,” Andre Johnson said.