WASHINGTON, D.C. – Juniata College field hockey and women’s lacrosse player Catherine Lanigan, University of Scranton men’s soccer player Everett Minchew, and volleyball player Kate Calabro, and Susquehanna University’s volleyball and softball player Kasey Bost, and men’s soccer player Max Reed were chosen as a representative for the Landmark Conference for last week’s NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.
Scranton head volleyball coach Jamie Spangler and Susquehanna Associate Athletic Director Crystal Gibson were also in attendance.
The forum, which was held in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 16-19, engages a diverse and dynamic representation of student-athletes, coaches, faculty and administrators.
During the forum, the student-athletes were separated into small teams for projects and discussions. The facilitators led the teams each day and spurred conversations that helped the student-athletes with analytical thinking and ways to address topics and concerns they had on issues that impacted them on their campuses.
"Going into this weekend, I had expected your average college convention consisting of a few keynote speakers and a ton of lecturing," said Minchew. "However, I was happily surprised to see the first pair of NCAA facilitators of one of the color teams dance their way towards the stage in the opening ceremony. It was at this point when I realized what was in store for me."
"From networking with peers from different areas of the country to participating in the numerous color team sessions and listening to various NCAA-affiliated speakers and motivational guests, I was given an incomparable opportunity to deepen my self-awareness and solidify my leadership philosophy," continued Minchew. "In my eyes, an elite leader encompasses not only the notorious characteristics of being personable, courageous, and outgoing, but exhibits a proper balance in their leadership."
Attendees were able to listen to two keynote speakers over the four days. Jacqie McWilliams, a former two sport NCAA athlete and NCAA champion in women’s basketball at Hampton spoke on Sunday. McWilliams is currently the Commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. She is the first African-American woman to hold this position.Chicago native Curtis Hill, a successful entrepreneur, author, and leader in diversity and inclusion also spoke to the group.
"Over the course of the four-day NCAA leadership program, I learned that "silence is consent," said Reed. "As leaders, we have to take a stand and speak up when we witness behaviors that go against our personal core values."
During the forum, the student-athletes learned about NCAA governance structures and how committees work and make membership decisions. They’ll also learned more about Student-Athlete Advisory Committees and how impactful they can be at the national, campus and conference levels. SAAC is the voice of the student-athlete within the NCAA governance structure. Student-athletes were encouraged to share their knowledge with the SAAC on their campuses.
Additionally, the student-athletes participated in a community service project to benefit Washington, D.C.-area youth and young adults who are in need. The attendees filled over 2,000 bags for the Covenant House.
"The best part of today was the service project, where we were able to fill 2500 bags for the Covenant House for the homeless,' said Bost. "Seeing all of the student-athletes work together to make an impact, really describes the philosophy of the NCAA."
The NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum engages a diverse and dynamic representation of student-athletes, coaches, faculty and administrators. Student-athletes selected to attend the forum return to campus with invaluable leadership skills, the experience of exploring the relationship between personal values, core beliefs and behavioral styles, and a thorough understanding of the NCAA as a whole, the different divisional perspectives and the valuable role of Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC).
"It was one of the best experiences of my life because I not only learned how to make myself a better leader, but how to make everyone else around me a leader as well," said Calabro. "To be a leader, you need a growth mindset and the willingness to be able to learn new things and learn from the people around you."
The Leadership Forum, created in 1997, has been a life-changing experience for more than 5,000 student-athletes, many who have grown personally and professionally, gained a new network of peers and friends, as well as felt the rewards and importance of community service.