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From the Chairman, Craig Thielen: A Vision For Minnesota Sports Culture

by Craig Thielen


Tell us about your personal history with Positive Coaching Alliance-Minnesota?
I was your typical parent coaching my kids in youth sports when I went to a Positive Coaching Alliance workshop led by Jim Thompson in 2013.  I learned so much and was hooked.  I thought if someone who grew up in sports and had great coaches to learn from and has coached more than 20 teams could benefit so much from it, how about the thousands of parent/coaches who are just starting?  I got involved with the Positive Coaching Alliance-MN launch committee to raise the necessary funds for a local dedicated office.  As my parent coaching career was winding down it was a great time to get back involved and I joined the Executive Board. The opportunity came up to serve as Board Chair and I am honored to serve.

Where does your personal passion for youth sports come from?
Sports has had a huge impact in my life.  As I said, I was fortunate to have some truly great coaches playing football, basketball, and baseball in Detroit Lakes and was fortunate to have the opportunity to play at the youth, high school, and college levels.  I learned so many life lessons from sports there are too many to name.  This passion reignited when I began to coach youth sports when I saw the enormous impact you can have on kids.    

Tell us about your most memorable sports experience? 
I have been part of and seen the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.  I have been part of some teams that accomplished more than anyone thought possible and there is no better feeling.  I have been a part of and seen some heartbreaking losses.  One of the best was just a few weeks ago when I was in attendance for the ‘Miracle in Minneapolis’, to see such pure joy out of 70,000 fans was truly special and unforgettable.

With the Super Bowl in MN last weekend, how do you feel the world viewed Minnesotans as sports fans?
I have been able to attend sporting events around the country and internationally.  Minnesota has some of the most passionate and supportive fans anywhere.  I think what sets Minnesota apart from many is how positive, welcoming and gracious we are in victory or defeat.  This was on full display the last two games for the Vikings and throughout the amazing community effort involved in hosting the Superbowl.

What is your vision for the Minnesota chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance?
While we have much to be proud of, we have so much more we can do.  Our mission at PCA is to change the culture of youth sports by creating ‘Better Athletes, Better People’.  How can we do that in Minnesota?  We can stand together at all levels of sports in Minnesota to model the behaviors the next generation can look up to and emulate.  This includes honoring the game, putting life lessons over wins, and ensuring everyone who is involved with sports has a positive life experience.  PCA-MN can be the unifying body that brings it all together and provides the tools, training, and support to put it in motion.

Craig Thielen is the Chief Essentialist at Trissential, a business management consulting firm focused on improvement. Craig is passionate about helping organizations transform so that their ability to change becomes a competitive advantage. He is a nationally recognized thought leader on the topics of enterprise transformation, innovation, agile transformation, organizational change and effectiveness, business strategy, and business architecture. Craig has been honored to consult for many world class organizations such as Target, Land O’Lakes, Pentair, General Mills and Johnson Controls.