Towson University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics reinforces leadership principles through programming and provides leadership opportunities on and off the field for student-athletes, coaches and staff.
Leadership Opportunities for Student-Athletes
Student-athlete representatives and advisers attend the annual CAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Meetings each fall. The student athletes have an opportunity to participate in leadership discussions with student-athletes from other CAA schools as well as with conference officials at these meetings. Kate Williams, a TU field hockey player, was selected by our conference to represent all CAA student-athletes on the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for 2012-13.
Student representatives and advisers attend the APPLE Conference (Alcohol Prevention & Leadership Education) each year. Students have the opportunity to represent Towson at these conferences and learn from student-athlete representatives from other schools as well as professionals who address a variety of important and timely topics.
Leadership Programming for Student-Athletes
Financial Responsibility Programs have been conducted by Melissa Groves, Department of Economics, in Life Skills sessions the past 2 years. In 2012-13, the manager of the PNC Bank on campus will provide student-athletes with presentations and engage them in conversations about budgeting, money management, credit card debt and identity theft. Learning to take control of financial situations is one key to being a strong leader.
Marie Lilly, Director of the Women's Resource Center, provides Self-Defense for Women programs for our female student-athletes. These interactive presentations teach our female student-athletes how to take control of their own safety and offers strategies to implement in potential sexual assault situations.
Individual teams continue to have the opportunity to be inspired and learn from motivational speakers on a variety of leadership topics. Some examples include:
Col. Art Athens, from the Leadership Institute at the U.S. Naval Academy, has inspired individual teams as well as all of our athletes and athletics staff about the importance of leadership and team building.
O.J. Brigance, former professional football player battling ALS, spoke with our football athletes about faith, focus and fortitude, qualities important to providing leadership and achieving success.
Coach Herman Boone, featured in the movie Remember the Titans, addresses the importance of leadership in team building, respecting differences and working together towards a common goal.
The DORA Programs are implemented by the TU Counseling Center. These presentations and discussions deal with developing peer support for students struggling with depression and helping future team leaders recognize warning signs in others. They also provide strategies to encourage friends and teammates to seek help. The programs are available to our student-athletes through Life Skills programming each term.
Women in Leadership Networking Event and Conference. Student-athletes from different sports join other student leaders at this annual campus event sponsored by the Women's Resource Center.
Margie Tversky and Antwaine Smith (Athletics) along with Marie Lilly (Women's Resource Center) will implement "Step-Up Bystander Intervention Programs for athletes and other student groups. The programs are designed to help students understand the importance of intervening if they observe a potentially dangerous or risky situation.
Leadership Experiences for Student-Athletes
Many of the TU Athletics Teams take part in delivering clinics to various community partners where they not only assume a leadership role in teaching the participants athletics skills but also address life skills such as leading by example and goal setting.
Student-athletes take the lead in supporting a variety of charitable activities. Examples of initiatives organized by student-athlete representatives from our teams include: "The Pigskin Pass", a joint fundraiser for Special Olympics Programs in Maryland and Delaware with the University of Delaware - more than $125,000 has been raised for Special Olympics programs in this "athletes supporting athletes" initiative over the past six years); annual CAA / Red Cross Blood Drives; "Pink PAWS Events" sponsored by each team to combat cancer; and an annual "Athletes Got Talent" fundraiser involving all of our teams in support of charities such as the Cool Kids Campaign (supporting families with children battling cancer). Individual teams also engage in leadership roles in providing outreach to community groups such as the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Maryland SEED School, U.S. Dream Academy, hospitals, and local elementary schools.
Many teams participate in leadership programming through the Total Tiger Program where they learn to utilize their status as student-athletes and leaders to combat gender violence and other social justice issues. Examples include:
Many male student-athletes and athletics staff members participate annually in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, bringing about an awareness of sexual assault on college campuses and encourage men on our campus to take a stand against violence against women.
The Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Committee and Athletics are collaborating to form a group of men focused on activism and violence prevention. This is a unique leadership opportunity for male students. They will receive training on violence prevention and will spread their message to boys at local high schools.
This fall Athletics will work with other groups on campus to implement a Men's Leadership Symposium with the following goals: to articulate the role of gender and masculinity in leadership; to discuss and understand their own stereotypes of men in leadership/males in general; identify their top five strengths and understand how these relate to their leadership roles and everyday relationships; and enhance their abilities in the areas of communication, politics, networking and involvement.
Some TU Teams have "Leadership Councils" with representation from different classes. Regular meetings provide an avenue for exchange of information between current and rising student-athlete leaders and the coaches as well as discussions relating to important topics such as: how to become an effective leader by example and a vocal leader; how to inspire teammates to work hard, overcome obstacles and stay focused; leading the team effectively under pressure, adversity and stress; pinpointing leadership strengths and areas to improve specific to their teams and how to become an effective leader on and off the field that coaches respect and teammates trust. Jeff Janssen's The Team Captain's Leadership Manual is used as a resource with a number of our teams.
Business Etiquette and Networking Events – The annual Business Etiquette and Networking dinner, co-sponsored by the Dept. of Athletics and the Career Center, is only one of many events geared toward junior and senior students preparing to enter the workforce. This program held in the fall, in addition to career networking events throughout the year, assist students that will soon be joining the "real world" to have the opportunity to learn from and network with corporate partners and recruiters who are leaders in various career fields. Career Development programs including Resume Review, Interviewing and Networking Strategies, Internship and Job Planning, and Mock Interviews with Recruiters, are also included as Athletics Life Skills opportunities.
Leadership Growth Opportunities for Athletics Staff
Head Coaches' Best Practices Sessions. Discussion sessions are conducted monthly with head coaches facilitated by former men's lacrosse coach, Tony Seaman and Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Nance Reed. Topics covered include: Developing team rules, student-athlete conduct, player and team discipline and responsible use of social media, staff and student-athlete responsibilities, leadership, effective collaboration with support staff; recruiting, admissions, financial aid, housing, academics, camps and clinics, fundraising and staff development.
Staff members participate in Staff Development Webinars and Seminars on an ongoing basis: Examples of recent programs include:
Disney Webinar: Members of the administrative staff are given the opportunity to view an on-line presentation and engage in a discussion about how best to provide customer service. No one does this better than Disney, and participants discuss ways to employ some of the effective strategies at Towson through other leadership and staff development programs.
Diversity and Inclusion Programming: Athletics Staff join other University personnel in participating in ongoing Inclusion Programs such as the "Speak -Up Program" and NCAA Webinars discussing diversity issues, concerns and initiatives on college campuses.
Athletic Department staff participate in TU Staff Development programs such as "Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service" with Michael Noll, Manager, Human Resources Training & Development. All of our staff members will be expected to provide leadership in this important area on a day to day basis, not just on "Game Days".
An Athletics Team Administration Share Drive is up and running and includes Team Vision Planning, Team Rules, helpful articles and resources to be shared along with other useful information.
Leadership Growth Opportunities for Students and Staff
The book You Don't Need A Title To Be A Leader, written by Mark Sanborn, will continue to be distributed to head coaches and select administrative staff including: The Administrative Leadership Team, Athletic Academic Advisors, selected staff and PAWS Executive Board. The book discusses "how each of us can be a leader in our daily lives and make a positive difference, whatever our title or position."
DiSC Analysis – Leadership Styles and Communication. DiSC is a Leadership and communication assessment tool. Rising student athletes, coaches and athletics staff complete an on line assessment, receive personalized profiles and engage participants in discussions about leadership and communication styles. The DiSC program can yield invaluable information on particular aspects of the team development process. It explores ways that team and staff members work together, both as a group and at the level of individual working relationships. DISC also has a useful part to play in understanding a leader's role in a team effort, and helping to develop that leader's effectiveness.
Many teams and staff take part in leadership initiatives via Community Service and Outreach where they work with various populations: elementary school students, hospital patients, children with special needs, community groups, etc. Our athletes and athletic staff completed over 7500 hours of Community Service in 2011-12, and look to complete over 10,000 hours in 2012-13.
"The Program" – Leadership and team building development exercises conducted by former Navy Seals. "The Program" is designed to provide personalized leadership development training that challenges every member of the team to get the most from themselves and their teammates.
GORUCK Challenge – The TU Office of Veteran Services, athletic department administrators, and representatives from the GORUCK Challenge have developed a program to engage our student-athletes in a series of workshops relating to the principles and teachings of leadership based on United States Military Special Forces training. The intent of this program is to develop leadership skills through academic study of military leadership as well as an intensive team building experiences that reinforce core values such as accountability, commitment, trust and honor.
The culmination of this program is the GORUCK Challenge which is held around the University campus at various time points throughout the year and involves 10-12 hours of mini-challenges and tasks that the team must work together to overcome. Inspired by the most elite training offered to Special Forces soldiers and led by Green Berets, the GORUCK Challenge is a team event, not a race. Challenge facilitators build each class into a team through collective conditions of mental and physical tasks while developing leadership skills in the participants. The route and distance of the challenge are unknown to participants and GORUCK Challenges can last longer and go on for greater distances if the team needs it in order to fully become a team.
StrengthQuest Training – Margie Tversky joined other campus administrators in StrengthQuest Training in June of 2012. Student Affairs staff and other campus student support personnel are planning to deliver StrengthQuest programs to students at Towson this coming academic year. StrengthQuest Training will assist students in identifying their talents and behaviors that will enable them to become more effective in meeting the challenges they face and insight into the core reasons behind their successes.
Students and staff interested in learning more about any of these leadership opportunities or experiences may contact Associate Director for Student Success Margie Tversky at firstname.lastname@example.org.