Mom, 3 daughters learned together through RISE

From left are the Reillys: Erin, Devin, Erica and Shannon. Erica led her three daughters and the rest of the Saline High School varsity field hockey team through the RISE Leadership Program.

Aug. 2, 2017

By Bryan Matecun

SALINE, Mich. – Erica Reilly and her daughters, Shannon, Devin and Erin, said going through the RISE Leadership Program helped them learn about their teammates and even each other.

Erica, Saline High School’s varsity field hockey coach, led her daughters and the rest of her team through the program in fall 2016. Erica originally heard about RISE through Shannon, who first went through the program with her basketball team the previous school year, when she was a junior.

“Shannon would come home and talk about what she was learning and what the program was doing for team bonding,” Erica said. “It was kind of exciting to hear that the school was doing such a cool program.”

Shannon said going through the program twice with her basketball team and once with her field hockey team helped her learn about diversity.

“I definitely realized the importance of diversity,” said Shannon, who graduated in June and will be a freshman this fall at Kent State University in Ohio. “Being around different people makes you a better person.”

While students going through the program generally study the same topics and concepts, the way in which they are presented and the activities in which they engage are different each season.

Devin, a rising junior, went through the program for the first time with her field hockey team and since has gone through it again with her soccer team.

“We had really interesting conversations about discrimination within the world of sports,” Devin said. “I knew there was discrimination out there, but I didn’t realize the extent that different racial groups had to deal with it and the stereotypes they were faced with. We know how to handle the situations better now.”

Erin, a rising sophomore, said she wasn’t aware of the extent of racial issues until she went through the program.

“It was really eye-opening to see the different examples of racism in sports and society,” Erin said. “It’s happening more than I could’ve known. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed.”

After going through the program, Erica said she saw her players become better leaders.

“The program taught them to step up and be leaders and that they have the power to affect change,” she said. “It also taught them not to tolerate any type of harassment. It gave them the push to step up and stand up for what is right.”

Devin said the program’s emphasis on leadership showed on the field.

“The leaders and captains on our team have more confidence and can talk respectfully to the referees,” she said. “There was one instance that I can remember where a referee made a bad call. Our captain was very respectful and went and talked to the ref about the call they made.”

Erica said she was impressed by how her players were able to respectfully discuss sensitive topics that they disagreed on throughout the program.

“The kids connected and were on the same page,” she said. “There were a handful of players with opposing views speaking on behalf of what they believed in and coming together from different angles. For example, we went through the history of racism in sports and discussed racial imagery like the Cleveland Indians logo. The majority of the group said that it isn’t great that the logo exists, but others said that it’s just a name. This led to some interesting conversations.”

Erica said social media was also an important topic in the program.

“The social media lesson is just so relevant to the kids now,” she said. “They have the ability to put something positive or something negative out there. They have a voice.”

Shannon agreed and even said it was her favorite topic.

“I’ll scroll through Twitter and see tweets about race and culture all the time,” she said. “The social media discussions were my favorite because of how relevant they are.”

Shannon said the program helped her communicate with her teammates and other classmates who had also gone through program.

“It felt like there was a closer bond between us after the program,” she said. “If someone has a tough game, we’re all there for each other and able to help them out a little bit. Off the court and field, we’ve taken what we learned and put it into a classroom environment. The boys team was also going through the program, so we were able to communicate with them because they were trying to use what they learned, as well.”

Erica said it brought her closer with her players, too.

“It was a great way as a coach to bond with my team off the playing field,” she said. “It gave a whole different insight to them as people and how they think and feel.”

Erin said having the opportunity to work together with her mother and sisters made going through the program a unique experience.

“Going through the program with my family was really interesting,” she said. “We brought the lessons home that we learned and discussed them.”

Shannon said her mother did a great job of leading the discussions.

“I was super comfortable with her teaching us,” she said. “The first time I went through the program, someone else taught it. Having it taught by a coach who is also my mother was different, but I thought she did a really nice job with it.”

Devin added that she even learned some new things about her mother.

“It was interesting to hear some of the stories she told about her field hockey days as a player,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing how she handled each session.”

Erica said it was the student-athletes, including her daughters, who made the program such a valuable experience.

“I am very fortunate to have a compassionate group of kids. They’re aware, and they’re leaders. If anything I think the RISE program made them understand that they have the power to affect change positively more so than they’ve been doing.”

Bryan Matecun is a summer 2017 intern for communications and marketing in RISE’s Midwest office in Detroit.