Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NCAA Leadership Conference and the WAC

The NCAA hosted a Regional Leadership Conference Nov 7th – 9th in La Jolla, California. Five western conferences and its respective institutions were represented with the WAC having 100% representation by all nine schools. What a tremendous opportunity for the students that attended to develop and refine their leadership skills.

To begin the conference, we were all assigned to specific color teams. I had the fortunate opportunity to be a participant on the RED team with several student-athletes and administrators. As an ice-breaker, we joined with another red team member and, among other items, were asked to share something about ourselves that no one would ever guess. Although there were several unique answers I wanted to share what I considered the best. One student-athlete (to remain unnamed although I told him I was going to blog about it because I felt it was so exceptional) finished, and I mean finished, two burritos from Chipotle in one sitting. Now, as an avid Chipotle and burrito fan, I understand the significance of stuffing your face twice, not just once, with all the rice, beans, meat, and whatever extras he could handle, at ONE time. Although the significance may not be recognized nationally, it prompted my research regarding the weight of burritos and if I may interject, the world’s largest burrito in the Guinness Book of World Records weighed in at 4500 lbs. Although the combined weight of his two burritos was much less than the World Record, who knows, maybe the leadership skills that he acquired about setting goals will drive him to eat three next time.

A large part of the conference focused on principles and values and the importance of understanding these to become an effective leader. Defining and being clear about these values will serve to guide a person’s daily choices, actions, and behaviors. After engaging in much intelligent discussion the Red Team identified the following headline that they wanted to be remembered by.

“Shaping tomorrow’s leaders one student-athlete at a time.” The Red Team Represents
R = respect
E = effective communication
D = dedication

T = teamwork
E = enthusiasm
A = attitude
M = motivation

Another session of the conference focused on Sportsmanship and how both student-athletes and administrators can be involved in promoting good sportsmanship, regardless of the sporting event. The WAC has taken a proactive approach to promoting good sportsmanship amongst all nine institutions. Specifically, the Conference office created the tag line, PLAY UP, to demonstrate that regardless if you are a fan, coach, player, student, parent, official, we want YOU to Play Up. We want YOU to be positive, to be proactive, to be encouraging, to be a role model, to be involved in creating a healthy environment for competition. And I encourage all of us to consider what sportsmanship means, and ask that we maintain the integrity of the game and ‘Play UP’ in promoting good sportsmanship.

Candice Wiggins (former Stanford Women’s Basketball Standout and current WNBA Lynx player) was the keynote speaker, and the message that she delivered was one that the student-athletes will remember for some time. The advice she offered about leadership based on her own experiences were to
Establish Goals
Have integrity
Trust people around you
Lead during times of adversity
No matter what your role is, you can become a leader

However, in my opinion, the greatest advice that she received while she was a student-athlete was, “if you want something that you have never had, then you need to do things you have never done.” If you want to reach the goals that you have established for yourself, either personally or professionally, then one must think outside the box, not be afraid to fail, and do things you have never done before because it is through the journey of failures that you will eventually find success.
Submitted by Mollie Lehman, WAC Director of Business and Operations

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