Becoming A Leader


By Devin Nelson, FMU

Before attending the NCAA Leadership Forum this year, the only thing I expected was to be busy all day, everyday. I figured there would be panel discussions with guest speakers and it turns out we had three guest speakers show up and talk to all 300 plus participants about branding and social media, the student athlete community we will be apart of even when we are done in college, and lastly, self leadership and shaping ourselves. We were also broken up by school division and had our division representatives lead smaller group discussions and present to us different rules and regulations that are continually brought up in NCAA Administration Division meetings.

Not to say that the activities were challenging, but I had a lot to think about during the day and fast. We covered an array of topics, and we did not have a lot of time to spend on group discussions so I was in a way forced to be as creative, yet as knowledgeable as possible. The advantage to this was that it forced you to be honest and pure with your responses. That was the only way to benefit from the activities we did. Most of the discussions we had revolved around brief self-assessments pertaining to how we view situations and ourselves where leadership was needed. We then discussed our answers with a few other people to try and meet new people as well as share ideas.

All 300 plus of the student athletes and administrators were split up into color groups of about 30 people and that’s formed the groups for small discussions. It was awesome getting to meet so many new people from all over the country. I met a volleyball player in my color group that goes to school in Hawaii, a soccer player going to school in Canada, a football player and basketball player from Chicago, and a fellow cross country runner going to school in Massachusetts. In our color group we were read quotes from famous and inspirational people almost everyday. I really liked this because some quotes really stick with you, others get you thinking about how you’ve done something relating to it, and others you have no clue what to think and that’s where the impact of the color group comes in. It gave you a perspective from another area. We built a little family where we didn’t judge or look down upon and were open to everyone’s ideas. We are all still keeping in contact even though the forum has ended. It just goes to show how time together with new people can have such an impact.

I liked the fact that we got to hear a lot of different views on so many different topics. This helped me personally to not be bias and have an open mind because I know I am not always correct. I also enjoyed the evening activities we did of bowling and participating in a murder mystery dinner the second night. That gave us a chance to interact with the other student athletes on something other than leadership. It was a great opportunity to just unwind from working, learning, and talking all day. I hope to stay connected with my color group members and captains because they were all great people. I appreciate everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to participate.

I knew that it wasn’t going to all be about fun and I liked getting down to business right there on the first day. We did not waste anytime trying to get more comfortable with one another and jumping in on leadership. I feel that I will apply everything I’ve learned to my everyday life to better myself and my team. I feel as though I’ve become a lot more personable because I met so many people each and every day. This will help me be more vocal than I currently am with my team. I also learned about different leadership styles, various characteristics of a leader, how to approach different situations where a leader is needed, and how I can better myself to become a leader.

Overall, it turned out to be an awesome experience that I would love to be a part of again. I’m so grateful Laura Buckalew, from the Peach Belt Conference office, invited me to apply for the opportunity to participate.