James Leath urges athletes to develop leadership skills


Abigail Yagi

James Leath helps athletes reach their potential. He visited Mid-Pacific on Oct. 12.

Abigail Yagi, Staff Writer

Better people make better athletes, according to James Leath, a performance coach who teaches athletes of all calibers how to develop leadership and communicative qualities.  

“I’m sharing things I learned in my 20’s and 30’s that I wish I learned in high school,” said Leath.

On Oct. 12, Leath spoke to about 100 Mid-Pacific student athletes and parents in two  sessions, continuing with a session for coaches the following morning. He used his self-made “Do, Say, Be” formula to help athletes learn leadership and relationship skills.

Leath’s interactive activities such as rock, paper, scissors with a twist, kept the athletes cheering and roaring victory for their teammates. He also brought students on stage to act out skits, which filled the auditorium with laughter.

“I’ve never had a presenter with that topic and the energy. Most presenters just talk and have a Powerpoint, but he had stories, examples, and skits with volunteers,” said freshman Nathan Loo, a student athlete who attended the speech.

Leath, the Founder of Unleash the Athlete and former Head of Leadership and Character Development at IMG Academy, had two ten dollar bills in his hands, waiting for students to take which he tied to his lesson on opportunity.

“Sometimes opportunities are right in front of you and it’s up to you to seize that moment,” said Leath.

Two students ran up to the stage, snatching the money away. One student was hesitant to keep the money, but Leath insisted him on keeping it because he took advantage of the opportunity in front of him. 

Leath also helps professional gamers. The Director of Performance for compLexity, an esports organization owned by the Dallas Cowboys, Leath has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Fresno State and a Master’s degree in Performance Psychology from National University.

He said he wanted his advice about respecting the process and being intentional when interacting with people to be the main takeaways for students.

“Leadership is not something you are born with,” Leath said “Leadership is something you become.”