As a part of its commitment to student-athlete development, the South Atlantic Conference held its inaugural Leadership Conference on July 29-31 in Black Mountain, N.C.
In total, 21 SAC student-athletes took part in the event, spanning nine of the league's 10 member institutions.
The Conference focused on developing leadership skills and challenged participants to be role models for their teammates, on campus, and in the community.
Headlining the event were five keynote presenters: author and motivational speaker Beverly Benfield, Musco Lighting's Mike Limpach and Dina Neely, Coastal Carolina University Director of Campus Recreation Jody Davis, and SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz. Together they covered topics such as leadership development, post-college preparation, personal accountability and team building.
Big South Conference Associate Commissioner Dawn Turner was also integral to the planning and operation of the event.
"The event exceeded my expectations," Britz said. "I'm confident that the student-athletes felt the weekend was both enjoyable and an excellent learning experience.
"As the SAC continues to invest in student-athlete leadership development, I look forward making the event even better in 2012 and beyond."
The Leadership Conference also mixed in some fun, as participants took part in multiple team-building activities, including a ropes course and pool competitions.
"It was truly an inspiring weekend with SAC student-athlete leaders," said Benfield. "Throughout the weekend, the displays of teamwork, trust, integrity and character were amazing to witness.
"I am encouraged and extremely grateful to have been a part of this growth experience with such an outstanding group of student-athlete leaders."
Below are takeaways from some of the event's participants.
"The SAC Leadership Conference was great. Every activity kept people engaged. It also taught us how to trust people that we didn't previously know, which will be valuable as we welcome new teammates. All of the games that we played had some way of relating to being or becoming a leader. I really learned a lot, and I would recommend it to many other athletes in the SAC. It was a great opportunity to not only learn how to become a great leader in sports, but also in life."
- Erica Warren, Mars Hill women's basketball student-athlete
"I believe the 2011 Leadership conference was a total success. It gave us the opportunity to work together instead of being rivals on the field. It was amazing to see how fast we all came together as a group. It was a rewarding experience that will last forever."
- Clay Yarbrough, Catawba cross country student-athlete
"I thought the leadership weekend was full of great learning experiences and fun. The leaders were thoughtful and made it clear that they cared for us as individuals and about our futures. They were educated and inspiring, each one filled with passion and a love for life. The weekend was a great learning experience, and I plan to take a lot of what I learned back to Brevard College this fall!"
- Candice Fritz, Brevard women's basketball student-athlete
"The event absolutely helped prepare me to be a better leader on my baseball team. In years past I have been a younger player and was not much of a leader. However, now that I'm going into my fourth year of school (3rd year of playing), I feel more ready than ever to be a leader on and off the field. I know that by being an older player, I will serve as a role model for the younger athletes and lead by example. The ropes course at the conference really showed me how trust can be a huge factor of success. If you trust your teammates and you believe in each other, then your possibilities are endless."
- Taylor Rakes, Tusculum baseball student-athlete
"I'm typically not a fan of leadership speeches, but the ones from this past weekend were unbelievable. I was blown away! The fact that twenty something strangers were able to come together, in such a short period of time, to successfully work together and rely on one another is not only inspiring, but remarkable."
- Alex Pena, Anderson cross country student-athlete
"I learned so much from the team-building and leadership skill builders. The most important thing I learned this weekend was that leadership is more than just telling others what needs to be done and being the "go-to" person. Leadership thrives on dedication to your goals, passion, and living with integrity."
- Amber Chase, Newberry soccer student-athlete