Athlete Leadership Program Welcomes Newest Training Class

The Athlete Leadership Program, sponsored by Bank of America, recently welcomed 16 new Global Messengers as part of a two-day training in Concord.

The Athlete Leadership Program is an initiative designed to empower athletes to find their voice and become Global Messengers for Special Olympics Northern California (SONC). Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who help spread the message and vision of the movement as well as the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics. Along with attending and speaking at Special Olympics events, fundraisers and meetings, Global Messengers are instilled with confidence and equipped with a variety of new skills that they can transfer into the workplace, their school and/or community.

The recent training featured 16 athletes – and their respective speech coaches – from all across Northern California, including Humboldt County, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Napa and more. The training covered the ins & outs of Special Olympics and SONC; the roles and importance of athlete leadership; speech writing and preparation; public speaking tips; and more.

“I think it was awesome and I learned a lot,” said Jennifer, a SONC Global Messenger. “My speech coach was amazing. It helped me prepare better on my speeches and to talk about Special Olympics.”

Whether the Global Messenger had presented dozens of times or had never spoken in public before, the training course was designed to help them grow as athlete leaders and empower them to become even greater ambassadors for SONC.

“It was an awesome weekend and an amazing experience of learning about the leadership program,” said Anthony, a parent and speech coach. “My daughter and I can’t wait to start sharing Special Olympics to others.”

In four trainings since 2018, 47 Global Messengers have been trained through the Athlete Leadership Program. Many have spoken at an assortment of events, including large conferences, school assemblies, fundraisers and more. Global Messengers also annually play a large role in SONC’s advocacy and government funding requests.

Bank of America is helping to make the Athlete Leadership Program possible through the Bank of America Foundation grant program, which supported more than 70 local organizations with an incredible $1.85 million in funding this year. More information on the Athlete Leadership Program can be found at To invite an athlete to speak at your business or event, please contact