May 2019 Recipient

May | Blue KC Coaches with Character

Ashley Forte, Cheerleading Coach

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the “C” You in the Major Leagues Foundation (CYITML) have announced Lee’s Summit North Varsity Cheerleading Coach Ashley Forté as the May Blue Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree. In just five years as a cheer coach at Lee’s Summit North—including the last two as the head varsity coach—Forté has helped the squad to a regional title in each season and to four state titles. But beyond helping them achieve at the highest level on the mat, Forté invests in her athletes as young women and helps them get “real-world ready.”“The high school years are both exciting and challenging in a young person’s life,” said CYITML Founder/Executive Director and Royals VP/General Manager Dayton Moore, “so for these young ladies to have someone such as coach Forté in their lives to invest in them in such a transparent way is an incredible benefit. We’re honored to be able to help recognize her.” Selected from nominations submitted by fans, with one honoree announced each month throughout the 2019 MLB season, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree will throw out the first pitch at a Royals home game, watch pregame batting practice, receive four game tickets, enjoy dinner in the Royals Diamond Club and visit the Royals Radio Network to record an on-air interview. “Being an athlete is more than being physically competent,” said Forté, who also graduated from Lee’s Summit North in 2009, cheering all four years. “My girls know that if all I have taught them is perfect technique then I have taught them nothing at all.” To help her athletes develop life skills, she focuses on helping them bond as teammates and create positive relationships through what she calls “team time.” The team activities—facilitated by the girls—include a variety of activities such as playing games, reading and dissecting articles and listening to the school social worker present on conflict resolution. Forté also remains open with her athletes about her passion for mental health awareness and ensures that the girls know she is a safe place for them and can talk to her about difficult issues. “The most rewarding thing for me is knowing my kids trust me,” said Forté. “Knowing my coaches and I have created a space that exudes trust for every one of my athletes keeps me going each season.” “Ashley Forté not only coaches one of the top cheer squads in the state of Missouri, but also does so while making a positive impact on her girls off the mat,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Blue KC. “Through her transparency about tough issues, she is helping her girls learn how to prioritize their mental health, and in the process is giving them tools that will help them beyond high school. It’s our privilege to honor her as a Blue KC Coach with Character.” Forté was nominated for the Blue KC Coaches with Character honor by Tina Faulkner, the parent of one of her athletes who has seen firsthand the impact Forté has made on the squad. “Coach Forté uses her voice to inform and teach others about mental illness, using her experiences to not only impact her team but the community as well,” said Faulkner. “She believes you can’t discuss mental health without addressing self-care. She provides tips on how to maintain a healthier mental life, overcoming fears/obstacles, celebrating victories, advocating for others, and last but not least, loving oneself. Many have been inspired by her personal truths, and her winning record is a testament to character as an individual and a coach.” In addition to the game-day benefits, each Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree also will be interviewed on 610 Sports Radio, receive a VIP gift package from Blue KC and CYITML and will be invited to meet 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 honoree. Those who would like to nominate an amateur coach from the KC area for Blue KC Coaches with Character are encouraged to visit CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org/bluekc.