Sports can be both the teacher and the exam for integrity. If our students learn the importance of integrity while playing gaga ball, or traditional dodgeball, then they are more likely to act with integrity in that situation and many others. Integrity works like a muscle. It can be built and strengthened over time. It is the part of our character that guides us to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Key Topics:
gaga ball, dodgeball, dodge ball, Israel, Jerusalem, integrity, right and wrong, honesty, truth-telling, gratitude, respect


Manu Ginóbili was a talented professional basketball player, but he was an even better teammate. In basketball, as in life, the most successful teams are the ones who practice great teamwork. Teamwork is the act of working together to achieve a goal that is bigger than any one member of the group. Teams share a vision, and they cooperate with each other to make the vision a reality. Good teamwork requires trust, communication, and empathy, among other things.

Key Topics:
basketball, San Antonio, Texas, United States, NBA, teamwork, relationship skills, collaboration, group work, team goals, goal setting, friendship


Perseverance is the trait that helps us to achieve really big goals, like completing the Ironman race in Hawaii. The Ironman is a triathlon, meaning the participants run, swim, and bike during different parts of the event. It takes a lot of perseverance to complete a challenge that big, but it also takes perseverance to do things like building with a complicated Lego set. Like building with Legos, building perseverance is something we have to do one step at a time.

Key Topics:
Ironman, marathon, running, swimming, cycling, biking, Hawaii, perseverance, giving your best, goals, goal-setting, encouragement, daily practice


The year-round tropical weather of Puerto Rico makes it perfect for playing baseball, and that's where Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Robert Clemente started playing. Clemente wasn't just known for his skill at batting and fielding. He was perhaps best known for how he used his talents and position as a professional baseball player to serve others. The best leaders are those who use their talents and position to serve others. Even when we feel like we don't have the most talent or the highest position, there is always an opportunity for each of us to be a servant leader.

Key Topics:
baseball, Puerto Rico, Caribbean, Roberto Clemente, servant leadership, service, community, caring, compassion


Whether the goal is eating delicious chocolate chip cookies or winning a gold medal in swimming, all goals require preparation. For the cookies, we have to gather ingredients, mix them together, and let them bake. For the gold medal, we have to develop a plan to practice every day to get ready for the big event. No matter the goal, preparation is a must. When we get ready to give our best before the big day, we'll be in a position to actually give our best at the big moment.

Key Topics:
preparation, swimming, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Katie Ledecky, Summer Olympics, responsibility, trustworthiness, getting ready, goals


When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, professional football player J. J. Watt practiced generosity by leading a donation drive to raise funds for meals and home rebuilding for those affected by the storm. Generosity can be as big as helping rebuild a city after a hurricane or as small as sharing a pencil. The size of the gift doesn't matter. The important thing is to give for the good of others.

Key Topics:
generosity, caring, relationship skills, social awareness, football, Houston, Texas, United States, giving, gratitude, community service


For American Ninja Warrior, players race the clock to complete an extremely challenging obstacle course that is suspended over a pool of ice cold water. The person who completes the course with the best time wins the race. In a solo sport like this, it would seem natural for the players to keep to themselves. But they do just the opposite. Competitors cheer each other on, provide tips for completing the course, and even train together. Instead of ignoring or discouraging their opponents, the ninjas encourage them. That encouragement helps each of them to give their best.

Key Topics:
obstacle course, ninja, Las Vegas, Nevada, America, competition, race, facing fears, encouragement, relationship skills, friendship, giving your best, helping others


Even when they're super frustrated, professional golfers at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia don't let themselves be flustered. Instead, they practice self-control. Life is full of situations where we have to choose between doing what we want to do, and doing what is right. When we choose what is right over what we want, we demonstrate self-control.

Key Topics:
self-control, restraint, responsibility, doing what is right, integrity, willpower, motivation, goals, Georgia, golf, frustration, emotions


The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is one of the top universities in the country. Students who graduate from there use their talents, skills, and physical fitness, to ensure that our country remains safe and awesome. But joining the military isn't even close to the only way to show love and commitment to our country and fellow citizens. For example, when we share with others what our favorite things are about America, that's a form of patriotism. In big ways and small, we can all show how proud we are to live in the United States.

Key Topics:
patriotism, fitness, Colorado, citizenship, self awareness, physical activity, exercise, United States, military, appreciation, gratitude



We teach students their ABCs and counting before teaching them to read and do math. This is the obvious way to do things because without knowledge of the letters and numbers, they don't have the basic components required to learn how to write or add. The same is true in sports like soccer.
Becoming a FIFA World Cup champion starts with learning the building blocks of soccer, like dribbling, passing, and receiving, because these are the foundation of the game. The best of the best are masters of the basics; they become reliable and trustworthy with the little things over time. Everyone starts with learning the little things.
Key Topics:
soccer, Argentina, reliability, responsible decision-making, trustworthy, building trust, consistency, little things, practice


Boldness, courage, and bravery are traits that all boil down to the same concept: being willing to go first. We often think of first responders like emergency medical techs, firefighters, and police. Or we think of the men and women serving in the military. But society’s need for bold people to do dangerous and important roles isn't the only reason that going first matters.
When someone is bold enough to go first, that invites the others around them to join in, too. This can be on a grand scale, like Arthur Ashe helping to pave the way for black athletes to play professional tennis. Or it can be on a smaller scale, like when a student stands up for a peer against a bully. No matter the scale, boldness matters.
Key Topics:
tennis, New York, boldness, courage, go first, bravery, leadership, military, growth mindset


SCUBA divers have to know how to use their gear, remember to breathe consistently, and stay in communication with their dive partners. All of this requires composure, so divers learn to stay calm under pressure while becoming certified.
Sometimes our students have big emotions that they don't know how to channel in appropriate ways. This distresses the student and distracts the rest of the class. Like SCUBA divers, our students can learn to use the tools available to them to stay calm when they want to freak out.
Key Topics:
SCUBA, diving, Philippines, composure, calm, breathing exercises, managing emotions, self-management, responsibility, coping, self-soothing, self-regulation


People get really passionate about things that they like and identify with, and that passion inspires loyalty. Whether we're talking about candy, sports, or cities, people are loyal to their team. And no one exemplifies loyalty better than team mascots. These costume-wearing entertainers are fantastic athletes in their own right, but they use their talents and energy to encourage others to support their team. Win or lose, rain or shine, mascots are there to support their team, no matter what.
Key Topics:
America, USA, mascots, support system, teamwork, school spirit, citizenship, patriotism, encouragement, relationship skills


Any type of fishing takes patience, but fly-fishing in particular requires diligence. Anglers have to move carefully so they don't spook the flighty trout. Anglers also have to keep trying multiple types of fly patterns to attract these picky-eater fish. Care and persistence are two skills that will help our students overcome obstacles as they learn and grow. When these skills are combined, we call that diligence.

Key Topics:
Montana, fishing, fly-fishing, trout, persistence, grit, tenacity, care, self-management, slow down, pay attention


When someone else's best is different from our best, it can be easy to become discouraged that we aren't as good or to become arrogant if we see ourselves as better than others. Either way, the easy route is not the respectful route. Respect means being thankful for our teammates and their skills. That means being thankful for their differences from us. If someone else on our team is faster, stronger, or smarter than we are, that's a good thing! It means our team has a mixture of skills and abilities that will help us all achieve our best.

Key Topics:
respect for others, Oregon, running, track and field, teamwork, celebrating differences, diversity, social awareness, cooperation


If we don’t pay attention to what’s in front of us, we can end up in embarrassing (or dangerous) situations. There are a lot of things that try to grab our attention, and that’s where focus comes in. Focus is a skill that we sharpen with practice. With enough practice at paying attention to what’s in front of us, we can learn to focus when it matters–like while performing a figure-skating routine in front of thousands of people or while listening to a teacher’s instructions.

Key Topics:
figure skating, Norway, focus, paying attention, multitasking, listening, practice


People are kind to us everyday in ways big and small. Sometimes kindness is when Mom makes a great lunch for the day. Sometimes it’s when a city like Portland decides to build skate parks so skateboarders have a place to do their thing without potentially hurting others. Kindness is important for building and maintaining strong relationships, as well as for getting along with complete strangers. When we see and meet the needs of others, they are more likely to see and meet our needs, too. We are stronger together.

Key Topics:
kindness, be kind, thinking of others, skateboarding, skate parks, Portland, Oregon, social awareness, helping others, caring, compassion


Every sport has rules, so every sport needs officials. Whether they are called referees or umpires, officials are on the field to ensure that everyone respects the rules and the rights of others. They make sure that everyone plays fair. When people don’t play fair, there are consequences (penalties). This is true in sports and in life. Life isn’t always fair, but we can always strive to treat others with fairness.

Key Topics:
officials, referee, umpire, mediator, rules, laws, fairness, penalties, respect, washington d.c., sports



Stephen Mackey, CEO & Founder

Stephen Mackey is a player development coach, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and founder of 2Words Character Development, one of the top Leadership and character curriculums in the country. Building on the Six Pillars of a Championship Character – Toughness, Integrity, Belief, Excellence, Effort, and Service – Mackey equips teams and organizations to elevate their performance by building a culture of character.
Patrick Jones - Course author