Leadership Academy Successful in First Year

Meeting up in Bramlage Coliseum, the coach-selected group of student-athlete leaders were in for a treat when they arrived. The room was filled with random items from Tic-Tacs to balloons to M&Ms to toilet paper, as K-State Director of Life Skills Cori Pinkett and Director of Spots Psychology Ian Connole - the masterminds behind the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy - prepared "Minute to Win It" challenges for the group to take part in.
"We've been doing Leadership Academy all year, and since this was our final meeting, Cori and Ian wanted to make it fun," said junior Clayton Dalrymple of the baseball team. "Obviously since we're all in collegiate athletics we all like competing, so this was a very fun time."
The Leadership Academy is a program designed specifically for student-athletes carefully selected by their coaches because of their leadership potential. This year's group was made up of 30 Wildcats who, throughout the course of the year, worked hard together to grow their individual leadership skills. 
"I thought it went really well," Connole said about the first year of Leadership Academy. "In the beginning, we spent a lot of time talking with the coaches and talking with the support staff to make sure we had the right people involved who would really buy in and invest in developing as people and as leaders within their teams. This final group is the kind of group that, in the beginning, we really hoped to have."
Since its startup last fall, the Leadership Academy has heard from speakers and worked on exploring their individual personal strengths and how to use them through various activities.  
"It's been a great experience," said sophomore women's basketball player Bre Lewis. "We learned things that we can use both with our sports and outside of our sports. We had great guest speakers who taught us about life, and we went over our strengths and learned how to use them and how to apply them to both life and basketball."
Though this year's group celebrated its final meeting of the year, these 30 student-athletes are far from done with the program. 
A two-year process, student-athletes begin the Leadership Academy as sophomores and first-time juniors (the Emerging Leaders program) and conclude it as returning juniors and seniors (the Veteran Leaders program). This year's group will return next year as upperclassmen on their respective teams, so they will have the opportunity to put what they learned as Emerging Leaders to work.
"This group spent a lot of time working together, talking about how to lead their teams in the right directions and how to positively influence the K-State Athletic culture," continued Connole. "They were really invested and they bought in throughout the year. That made our job easy."
The goal of the Leadership Academy is that, after two years in the program, these select student-athletes will be well equipped to impact and influence their teams and take on the world as leaders after their time at K-State.
"It's been beneficial being around other leaders and getting their input on how to handle things," said sophomore Katie Reininger of the volleyball team. "When you're only around your team, you only get one perspective, but when you're around football, equestrian, you get a whole different perspective on how to be a leader." 
Bettering themselves off their playing fields to perform better on them, this year's group is excited and ready to spring forward and continue growing as leaders as their Wildcat career progress. 
"It was a new experience for everyone, but Cori and Ian did a great job of getting this collective group of people together and getting everyone to work hard," said sophomore football player Deante Burton. "I think it was fun, and I think next year everyone is going to continue to learn and have a really good time. This program is going to be really beneficial in the future for all K-State's teams."
This year's Emerging Leaders:
Henley Adkins - sophomore - equestrian
Alyssa Lombardi - sophomore - equestrian 
Jeff Bachman - sophomore - cross country 
Katie Brand - sophomore - volleyball 
Travis Britz - sophomore - football
Deante Burton - junior - football 
Sara Castellano - sophomore - tennis 
Will Davis - junior - football 
Noelle Dykmann - sophomore - rowing 
Mary Frances Donnelly - junior - cross country
Clayton Dalrymple - junior - baseball
Jesse Ertz - sophomore - football 
Tia Gamble - junior - track and field 
Katherine Gravel-Coursol - sophomore - women's golf
Matt Green - sophomore - men's golf
Madi Haney - junior - rowing 
Palma Juhasz - sophomore - tennis
Danielle Kemper - junior - equestrian 
Connor Knabe - sophomore - men's golf
Kersten Kober - sophomore - volleyball 
Jessica Kuhlman - junior - rowing 
Bre Lewis - sophomore - women's basketball 
Christina Martinelli - junior - equestrain
Levi MaVorhis - junior - baseball  
Kara Omo - junior - rowing 
Ifeanyi Otuonye - junior - track and field
Katie Reininger - sophomore - volleyball 
Brian Rohleder - junior - men's basketball
Madison Talley - sophomore - women's golf
Stanton Weber - junior - football
Kindred Wesemann - sophomore - women's basketball
Dani Winters - junior - track and field

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