BALTIMORE, Md. – Western Illinois softball player Kelsey Marlow and Omaha's tennis player Alex Woodward represented The Summit League at the 2016 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 10-13. Spanning over all divisions, over 300 student-athletes, administrators and coaches were in selected to attend the event.
Eryn Cook, Summit League Assistant Commissioner for Compliance, joined Marlow and Woodward at the conference.
"One of the most impactful things I learned at the forum was to be a good person in everything you do," Woodward said. "Although simple, this can be applied to leaders in every category, not athletes alone. The Leadership Forum was a great experience and I feel honored to have represented The Summit League and the University of Nebraska Omaha."
"I'm immensely grateful to Western Illinois University and The Summit League for allowing me the opportunity to attend the NCAA Student Leadership Forum and grow not only as a leader, but as a person," Marlow said.
All attendees were broken up into small "color-named groups," where discussions were led by member institutions' selected facilitators on how to enhance leadership skills. The discussions were broadly analytical based to help participants to learn how to tap into their own leadership style as well as learn effective leadership methods from their peers.
Mixed between the group sessions were Divisional NCAA governance and SAAC breakout meetings. Members of the NCAA and Division I SAAC divulged the inner workings of the NCAA governance structure and National SAAC. The breakouts provided attendees with a better understanding on how decisions are made on the national level.
The group also as sembled care packages consisting of hand stuffed teddy bears, inspirational notes and NCAA apparel that were delivered to young children at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"One of my favorite parts throughout the entire weekend was the service activity," Marlow mentioned. "It really hit home for me, because my sister had brain surgery at Johns Hopkins when she was younger."
Keynote speeches were also given by entrepreneur Ryan Gilliam and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medalist Samantha Peszek. Both were former Division I student-athletes.
"The NCAA Student Leadership Forum was such an impactful experience," Marlow said. "I learned so much about others, but also about myself. This process helped me determine my core values, which helped me shape my leadership philosophy."
"I have been fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to meet people that have made a lasting impact on my life," Woodward said. "I would like to thank Eryn [Cook] for being a great leader to me throughout this experience."
The NCAA Leadership Forum, created almost 20 years ago, has been positively impacting the lives of student-athletes, administrators and coaches by providing leadership tools for personal as well as professional growth. Essential leadership skills are discussed with the hope that attendees will take the information learned back to their campus or conference.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Celebrating its 35th season of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 80 Academic All-Americans, 75 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.