Golden Bears Return from NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum Held in Providence, R.I.

Golden Bears Return from NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum Held in Providence, R.I.
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Western New England University student-athletes PJ Nassar, the SAAC President who plays men's tennis, and Jessica Stumpf, the SAAC Vice President who competes in women's lacrosse, along with Student-Athlete Advisory Committee advisor Jennifer Kolins, recently attended the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum here at the Omni Hotel Downtown. They were among approximately 350 student-athletes and 100 coaches/administrators spanning NCAA Divisions I-II-III from across the nation.

Also attending the four-day national conference were former Golden Bear student-athletes who now serve as head coaches at their respective institutions. They include:
  • Kaylyn Smith '10 (Women's Basketball): NCAA grant recipient to serve as the assistant to the AD at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, interim Lacrosse Coach, SAAC Advisor and was a facilitator at the Forum.
  • Nicole Poli '11 (Women's Lacrosse and Volleyball): Head Women's Lacrosse Coach and Weight Room Assistant at Mount Ida College.
  • Samantha Shomo '11 (Women's Volleyball): Head Volleyball Coach and SAAC Advisor at Anna Maria College.
"The conference was terrific, and Western New England was represented well," Kolins stated. "PJ and Jess were standouts in the large group discussions."

Participants engaged in close to 40 hours of training and programming. Some general session highlights were An Overview of NCAA Governance Structure; Global Leadership Models by a panel of athletic directors, NCAA staff and conference commissioners; NCAA SAAC Breakouts; and color team sessions with NCAA facilitators exploring servant leadership, foundational leadership, leadership styles, SAAC mission, and holistic student-athlete development.

Nassar commented: "What an amazing experience it was to have the opportunity to enhance our leadership skills and bring numerous strategies back to campus."

"The Leadership Forum was such an inspiring and life-changing experience, as we were really able to learn a lot about ourselves and how to be an effective leader," added Stumpf.

Evening activities included a Dave and Busters Social (closed for just NCAA conference attendees), a Murder/Mystery dinner and social networking dinner.

During the community service segment, all conference participants made blankets and teddy bears to be donated to the Saint Mary's Home for Children in Providence. The Executive Director came and spoke St. Mary's Home and the impact that the blankets and bears will have on the children that don't have much, and some don't have a family.

Perhaps the most inspiring portion of the NCAA Leadership Forum was listening to the speakers at the Effective Facilitation Workshop:
  • Former Fresno State star and Boston Celtic Chris Herren, who battled drug addiction and lost everything in his life, messaging about decision-making and overcoming personal challenges.
  • Author and motivational speaker Sam Davidson discussed how a person's values and actions con6nect with what type of leader you are.
  • Former Virginia Tech basketball player Rayna DuBose, a quad amputee who had her limbs amputated after meningitis speaking about overcoming adversity.
Athletics professionals had designated times for trainings and sessions from NCAA officials, and they also had the opportunity to sit in on the sessions with the student-athletes.

Kolins summarized: "It is hard to put into words how incredible and inspiring the four days at the conference were. Every minute was energizing, from listening to the view points of the student-athletes from across the country, to the NCAA staff and their sessions, and the speakers who gave motivating life-changing messages about leadership and life.

"The personal highlight for me was to watch our current and former Golden Bear student-athletes shine. Jess and PJ were outstanding contributors to the conference and were recognized by the NCAA staff for their contributions and the success that they have on campus. WNE alumnae of Nicole, Sam and Kaylyn have made such a lasting impact on our campus, and now watching them as stand-out professionals was truly inspiring."