Head football coaches Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State University and Bob Stoops of the University of Oklahoma are teaming up with the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence through its Boren Mentoring Initiative to host the Oklahoma Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge, a statewide campaign to recruit mentors for young people in need.


The Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge started in 2008 as a friendly competition between mentoring advocates Coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska and Coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. Since then, 15 current and retired coaches from Big 12 and Big Ten teams have joined the challenge. This year, the Big 12 Conference has also endorsed the campaign, which runs Aug. 1 through Nov. 30. Last year’s campaign rallied nearly 9,000 new volunteer mentors in participating states, and this year organizers have set a goal of recruiting 15,000 new mentors.


“As coaches, we have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of our athletes both on and off of the field,” Stoops said. “However, more and more youth are in need of a positive role model. The National Mentoring Partnership has identified 15 million children in our nation who are in need of caring and quality mentors.”


“In an effort to help close this ‘mentoring gap,’ we are joining the Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge to encourage our fans to become mentors to local youth in need of positive adult influence in their lives,” Gundy said.


In partnership with the Boren Mentoring Initiative, Stoops and Gundy are sending letters to college and high school football coaches throughout Oklahoma encouraging them to also endorse and support the mentoring campaign in their communities. The Boren Mentoring Initiative is also reaching out to its statewide network of mentoring partners to join the campaign to help recruit and place mentors. So far, 22 youth mentoring organizations have signed on and more are expected as the campaign gains momentum.


The Boren Mentoring Initiative has launched a website at www.okcoacheschallenge.org where people can sign up to mentor. The website also offers information for participating mentoring organizations as well as Oklahoma coaches who would like to register to join in the campaign. The site includes ideas and materials for promoting the campaign and recruiting mentors in communities across the state.


“We are grateful to Coach Gundy and Coach Stoops for supporting the Coaches’ Mentoring Challenge and look forward to working with them, as well as other coaches, mentoring organizations and volunteers across the state to raise awareness and recruit more mentors,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.