Leadership. It’s a word used by teachers and coaches, but it’s never really explained how they would like leaders to act. Until now.
“Mrs. Barash and I agree that we ask our student-athletes to be leaders and we thrust them into captain and leadership roles and expect so much of them. But what training or tools do we actually give them to help them succeed in those roles?”Seaholm leadership teacher Billy Shellenbarger said.
During the summer, Mrs. Barash approached Shellenbarger and asked him if he would like to create a leadership forum for upperclassmen team leaders.
“We thought developing a program such as this would help give our student-athlete leaders some further opportunity to see, hear and learn from great leaders and hopefully take something away from it that would help them and their peers this season and in life,” Shellenbarger said.
On August 23, fifty seniors and juniors were sitting in the Seaholm media center at the First Annual Maple Athletic Leadership Forum.
To decide which students would attended, varsity coaches were asked to picked two to five athletes on their team who they felt could benefit from going, according to Shellenbarger.
“I wanted to come to the forum because I believe I am a leader in many different areas, at school and in the community, and am always looking to improve my leadership skills on and off the field,” senior Alex Breeden said.
Shellenbarger also had to decide which coaches would go to the event. With the help of athletic director Aaron Frank, he recruited Jim Dewald, Seaholm’s football coach and Jen Dunbar, Girls lacrosse Coach to speak.
“I wanted speakers for this forum who were state championship coaches or collegiate captains,” Shellenbarger said. “They have had outstanding experiences with leadership in the athletic setting and I wanted them to kick off our first forum.”
There were a lot of good pieces of advice that students learned. However one that Frank stressed during his speech at the forum was attitude.
“I think that culture on a team and the direction that leaders help establish is incredibly infectious,” Frank said.“It can be a very positive thing; it can also be a very negative thing.”
The forum also gave advice such as lead in the off season, stop making excuses, andbe upfront with weaknesses.
“I learned that not all leaders fit one mold, and that sometimes there is no best way to handle a situation,” Breeden said.
Frank said that he hopes to develop future student leaders.
“My hope is that by helping to train and support student leaders, we can prepare groups of seniors every year to take ownership of their team and create the culture where every season is a great success,” Frank said.
This is just the first of many forums. According to Shellenbarger, there will be another one like this set in the spring.
Frank would like to have forums along these lines for underclassman, as a way of preparing them for future leadership roles.
“Eventually we’re going to get to a system of where we have an ongoing training program where we identify the students who are on a potential leadership track, even as freshman,” Frank said.“So we can identify younger students and help them become great leaders so that by the time they’re juniors/seniors it won’t be the first time they’re hearing this. They’ll be well prepared.”