July 2018 Recipient

July | Blue KC Coaches with Character

Jessie Rood, gymnastics coach, SM Northwest High School

“C” You in the Major Leagues Foundation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) have announced award-winning gymnastics coach Jessie Rood as the July Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree.

“This nomination blew my mind. You do not teach or coach for recognition. You teach and coach to impact others while knowing few people see what you do on the sideline. To have someone consider me for any award has always felt so humbling and extraordinary to me,” said Rood, who has coached gymnastics for 16 years through Xcel Gymnastics and Blue Valley Recreation as well as three years at the Shawnee Mission Northwest head coach. “I believe the most rewarding thing about coaching is knowing what you teach in the gym translates to life. The values I instill do not just apply to the beam or the bars but also to the treatment of themselves, others, and always striving for excellence. I want to know that when my athletes leave my program, they can take with them the mindset of strength and mental toughness and carry those principles throughout their lives.”

“Coach Rood personifies the “Coaches with Character” program in her approach with her athletes,” said CYITML Founder and Executive Director Dayton Moore. “Her success as a coach comes from not only her expertise in gymnastics, but also how she stresses life lessons and discipline through the sport.”

Shawnee Mission Northwest staff and teachers see first-hand how Rood interacts with her student-athletes every day. Rood was nominated by Northwest athletic trainer Daniel Fletcher.

“Jessie Rood reflects the discipline and character it takes to be a successful athlete and coach. On a daily basis she educates students on healthy lifestyle habits, physical routines, and long-term goals. Outside her expected responsibilities as a coach, in her free time she is acquiring her PhD, living life as a cross-fit athlete, and encouraging young gymnasts through club sports to revitalize a forgotten sport,” Fletcher said in his nomination materials. “Her success was seen this year as the gymnastics program at the high school alone doubled in size while other programs faded. Jessie has a mission to help encourage individuals to pursue and live an active lifestyle. The students appreciate her upbeat personality as a teacher and respect the model which she sets for them as they become adults.”

After competing as an elite-level gymnast herself, Rood saw an opportunity to continue bringing a competitive fire and passion to others through coaching. She has built a successful coaching career by continually reinforcing good practice habits and mental toughness in her young athletes.

“I have four rules in my gym: (1) Listen to your coach; (2) Support your teammates; (3) Work hard and honestly, and (4) No whining. These are posted everywhere in my gym. They remind my girls that once you step foot inside a place where your job is to put your head down and work, you set everything else aside in order to focus,” Rood said.

“I teach my girls that not every day will be an easy day and not every day will be one where your skills are perfect. What matters most is how you handle those days. One cannot crumble because they are faced with a challenge. I try to teach them how to change their perspective. If there is something you struggle with, you cannot avoid it or complain about it. You must change your mindset and tackle that more than anything else. In order to be good at what you do, you must change your weaknesses into strengths.”

Rood has been recognized by the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance as the 2018 Kansas High School Young Professional of the Year and was also the recipient of the 2007 Kindest Kansas Citian Award. She has led her Blue Valley Xcel team to four state championship titles. Shawnee Mission Northwest finished third in the state in 2017.

Rood’s student-athletes know up front the priority she places on academic excellence before athletic excellence. She maintains, however, that the two go hand-in-hand.

“I tell them the term ‘student-athlete’ has ‘student’ first for a reason. They are committed to being students first and that will always be the number one priority. Their education is something no one can ever take from them. Even in the worst of life situations, your education will always be yours. I continue with the saying, ‘How you do anything is how you do everything,’ reminding them that if they find it easy to slack off on their academics, they will eventually do the same in their athletics. Practicing the same type of mindset everywhere makes you stronger. My athletes know my expectation for excellence everywhere and although excellence does not mean perfect, it does mean maximum effort.”

A joint venture for Blue KC and CYITML, the Blue KC Coaches with Character program spotlights amateur coaches who, through their leadership on and off the field, are helping to grow youth sports in the Kansas City area, and making the community a better place to live, work and play. Selected from nominations submitted by fans, with one honoree announced each month throughout the 2018 MLB season, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree will be interviewed on 810 WHB, receive a VIP gift package from Blue KC and CYITML and will be invited to meet Royals General Manager and CYITML Founder Dayton Moore at an event in September at Kauffman Stadium. Additionally, Blue KC will make a $2,000 donation to CYITML in honor of each selected coach.

To nominate a coach, click here.