Edition #233: The Sam Goodwin Story Highlights The Value Of Skills Built Through Youth Sport.
We never know when we will need some of the qualities built through youth sport.
As coaches and parents, we speak often about how youth sport builds character and helps develop qualities like perseverance, dealing with adversity, building self-confidence and patience.
Rarely do we provide examples of how these skills have helped young people later in life. This week, we explore a unique story doing just that.
Sam Goodwin grew up playing hockey in the USA, going on to play Division 1 college hockey at Niagara University.
After graduation, Goodwin accepted a position with a tech startup and an NGO in Singapore. Taking advantage of the flexibility the position allowed him, Goodwin spent as much time as he could traveling around the world. When he realized he had been to 120 of the 193 sovereign states recognized by the UN, he decided he wanted to try and visit all of them.1
While visiting 1 of the remaining countries, Syria, Goodwin was apprehended by local authorities and held captive for nine weeks in 2019. His imprisonment included being subjected to solitary confinement, a sham trial, blindfolded interrogations and, ultimately, a dramatic release.
Goodwin’s story illustrates the dangers of travelling abroad in countries going through upheaval, war, and internal conflict. His apprehension was based on suspicion of doing harm to Syrian government, as opposed to any real crime. Being American at a time when USA was in conflict over Syrian policy did not help.
Once released, Goodwin cited the skills developed as a youth athlete as a foundation for his ability to withstand such trauma and uncertainty. He has been quoted to have relied on the mental toughness, critical thinking, and resiliency skills that he developed as a competitive athlete.
Very rarely in our journey through youth sport as athlete, parent and coach do we provide examples of how these skills can assist later in life. While Goodwin’s story is an extreme example of being subjected to the harshest of situations, it does put meaning to these qualities.
In 2023, more than ever, being able to have mental toughness and persevere through challenges become key pillars for our youth in later life.
Qualities and skills that play out at times in wild, wild ways.
Here is a great feature on the Sam Goodwin story, as found on Canadian show W5.