John Underwood to speak in Portsmouth Feb. 26

Internationally recognized human performance expert John Underwood will speak at Portsmouth High School on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Internationally recognized human performance expert John Underwood will speak at Portsmouth High School on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Internationally recognized human performance expert John Underwood will speak at Portsmouth High School on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Internationally recognized human performance expert John Underwood will speak at Portsmouth High School on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

PORTSMOUTH — John Underwood, an internationally recognized human performance expert, will be in town at the end of the month to introduce Portsmouth’s athletic directors, coaches, parents and students to his innovative “Life of an Athlete” (LOA) program, now used by more than 700 colleges and universities and thousands of schools in 39 states.

LOA, which Portsmouth will adapt to “Life of a Student” to cover all extracurricular clubs and organizations, is a community approach to reducing risk and increasing protective factors for students and athletes. It relies on setting clear consistent boundaries for behavior, increasing understanding of consequences, teaching appropriate lifestyles and establishing a process to identify and help those involved in drug use or behaviors of concern.

“A high percentage of Portsmouth’s middle and high school students participate in school or town athletic programs, and we hope LOA has a direct impact on helping them achieve their peak performance,” said Ray Davis, coordinator of the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition.

The Coalition brought the recommendation for Portsmouth schools to consider incorporating this program into the school system as a result of the Community Needs Assessment/Student Wellness Survey that was conducted last spring.

According to the Coalition, the survey showed alarming rates of substance use by students as well as high perception rates of peer usage and low rates of peer disapproval of substance use. The School Committee’s joint subcommittee on substance abuse, comprised of committee members, school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, students and some members of the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition, recommended implementation of “Life of a Student” to the full School Committee.

Portsmouth schools will partner with the Tiverton School Department and the Tiverton Prevention Coalition, a federal Drug Free Communities grantee, in adopting this program and sharing some of the costs in bringing Mr. Underwood to the area.

Mr. Underwood will present his program to Portsmouth students during the day on Wednesday, Feb.26, and to Portsmouth parents that evening in the high school auditorium from 7-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) He’ll talk about how parents can use LOA principles to help their kids achieve peak performance, whatever their life interests may be. Admission is free.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Mr. Underwood will speak to Tiverton school officials and parents and also present training to Tiverton and Portsmouth coaches, trainers, administrators and officials on the Life of An Athlete program.

“While this program focuses on athletes,” Mr. Davis said, “the model has been shown to have a positive impact on all segments of the school and community. Its basic principles, all geared to achieving peak performance, can be applied across all co-curricular activities, and not just athletics.”

Life of a Student is a piece of a developing plan made in conjunction with the School Department, School Committee, Portsmouth Prevention Coalition and the Town Council to reduce adolescent substance abuse and provide our youth more science-based prevention opportunities, Mr. Davis said.

Mr. Underwood is the founder and director of the American Athletic Institute and Life of an Athlete Human Performance Project. A former NCAA All-American, international-level distance runner and World Masters Champion, he’s coached or advised more than two dozen Olympians including many world champions. He holds three International Olympic Solidarity diplomas for coaching and has been a crusader for drug-free sport at all levels.

He has conducted the only physiological case studies of the residual effect of alcohol on elite athletic performance. He has appeared as a guest commentator for “ABC Wide World of Sports” for Olympic drug scandals and has worked with nearly all sports federations including the National Federation of High School Athletics, NCAA, NHL, NFL, NBA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sport Canada and the International Olympic Committee. He is also a human performance consultant for the U.S. Navy SEALS and the U.S. Air Force.

For more information, contact Mr. Davis at 401/864-2015 or rdavisprevention@cox.net.

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