NCAA Division I SAAC Breakout Session

Nov. 8, 2013

PROVIDENCE, RI-Waking up before 8:00 a.m. for some people is the most difficult thing for them to do, even if it is to attend something that we normally enjoy doing. For student-athletes that typically have early morning workouts, 8:00 a.m. is round two, if not round three of a 12-round boxing match of events they have planned for that day.

For Jeff Fleetwood and Chelsea Alston, baseball and softball student-athletes, respectively, being up on Thursday by 5:00 a.m. was part of the norm. Alston would have been awake to participate in weight training with the softball team and Fleetwood would have been working at his internship with Potthurst Elementary as a mentor with special education students. Clearly two very involved student-athletes.

Why is today different? From Thursday, Nov. 7 until Sunday, Nov. 10, Fleetwood and Alston will participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.

The intent of the Forum is to provide attendees (student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators) with a better understanding of who they are, what it means to be a leader, as well as learn the benefits of using your leadership skills to empower others towards a common goal.

So often we see the on-field successes of our student-athletes through competition, but rarely do we think about or address their innate or learned leadership skills. The leadership forum is a program that few students get the opportunity to participate in and even fewer in the public domain are aware of, but its impact will stay with the students as long as some of their best college memories.

Over the next four days Alston and Fleetwood will share their thoughts which will be blended together to give insight into their specific experience. Since they will be among 350 or more student-athletes, the dynamic of their facilitators, participation with their Forum team and interactions might vary.

Day 1, November 7

Having learned about the DiSC Behavioral Assessment, which neither Fleetwood nor Alston had ever taken before, they both felt that it revealed things about their behavior and how it could be applied to leading their teams. "Everyone [on the team] is different and that difference is okay," said Alston. "Knowing how I interact with people from the DiSC assessment will allow me teach the team patience and how to be open-minded to difference."



Thursday focused on showing how we are all capable of being leaders and that we approach our way of leading differently. "Leading is about being the `driver and not the passenger'," said Fleetwood. Our opening session began with asking if we wanted to be leaders or passengers. Drivers took the lead, whether it be in their actions or setting the example, or verbally.

What was revealed to Fleetwood about his leadership styles was that he likes to generate enthusiasm and values collaboration with his team. Admittedly giving into some request by his team and not always planning towards completion was where Fleetwood felt he could improve upon in his leadership. To address this aspect of his leadership, Fleetwood mentioned that he wants to be firm and standing his ground as a leader.

Following an afternoon of learning and eye-opening experiences about our personal leadership, the student-athletes and athletic professionals were treated to a night of game playing at Dave & Busters. It is needless to say, but there were stuffed animals and tickets being redeemed all over the place from not just competitive student-athletes, but great students and developing leaders.