Tom Osborne, Sioux Falls School District, GreatLife partner for mentoring program

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A well-known Nebraska coach is in KELOLAND to recruit new teammates, but not for football.

You may know Tom Osborne as a former politician, football player and head coach for University of Nebraska Lincoln. Now he’s teaming up with the Sioux Falls School District and GreatLife to help improve the lives of children and teenagers. January is National Mentoring Month, and Osborne says he needs your help.

Osborne’s influence on his football players was just as important off the field.

“Coaching essentially was mentoring,” Osborne said.

Over the years, he’s seen more kids and teens need a positive role model.

“The biggest threat that I see right now to our country is what’s happening to our young people. They’re the next generation. If they can’t pull it off, bad things happen,” Osborne said.

He founded Teammates. The mentorship program is in 170 communities in five states and now he’s in Sioux Falls to announce he, the Sioux Falls School District and the GreatLife Cares Foundation are launching it here. GreatLife is contributing $80,000 for this program to help local students.

“Everyone of us has either formally or informally had somebody who has mentored us and made us who we are and there’s a need,” Tom Walsh Sr., GreatLife CEO, said.

Teammates of Sioux Falls will pair mentors pair with third graders. Mentors will stay with them through high school graduation.

“This is not a tutoring program, so you don’t have to know calculus; simply building relationships,” Osborne said.

Sioux Falls Schools Superintendent Brian Maher says there’s a need for more mentors in the community and students with mentors are less likely to skip school, use drugs and alcohol, and more likely to go to college.

“Bottom line, mentoring matters. It’s a powerful connection between a child and a caring adult,” Maher said.

Osborne says Teammates needs you. You’ll may start with a student in a school, but you’ll be surprised at how far your influence stretches.

“Most of our mentoring occurs over the lunch period. Those lunch periods are only 30 to 35 minutes long. So, it doesn’t take much time, but it makes a huge difference in the life of a young person,” Osborne said.

While he was visiting, Osborne also talked about his connections to South Dakota.

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