A Look Back and A Look Forward: Reflecting on the 2017 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum

A Look Back and A Look Forward: Reflecting on the 2017 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum

Washington, D.C. – Omaha's Alyssa Averhoff and Fort Wayne's Damian Helm represented The Summit League at the 2017 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. in November. Spanning all divisions, over 300 student-athletes, administrators and coaches were selected to attend the event. As the calendar page turns to a new year, Averhoff and Helm look back and reflect on the concepts and teaching points they would like to carry into 2018.

The Leadership Forum brings together a diverse and unique selection of individuals who engage in team-building activities, community service initiatives, core belief and behavior analysis, as well as group discussion and understanding of the inner-workings of the NCAA and the role of Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC). Averhoff thought the diversity in leadership styles was one of the most impactful parts of her experience.

"I want to teach others that diversity in leadership is ideal and creates the best atmosphere," said Averhoff, "There is not one style of leadership that everyone should follow."

Inspired by the forum, the senior cross country and track student-athlete wants to inspire others in the new year by leading by example and compassionately listening to others. She hopes to apply these lessons to the Omaha SAAC, as well as the various community service projects she supports.

"I hope to constantly inspire my peers to be better leaders, just as the forum inspired me," said Averhoff, "I plan to give presentations and create activities to help others be confident in their leadership styles."

Helm was also inspired by the differing types of leadership, but wants to put emphasis in 2018 on supporting the strengths of others and encouraging those around him to reach their full potential.

"Each person has a role and attributes that contribute to the success of the group. Everyone has characteristics that make them an effective member of a team," said the sophomore baseball student-athlete.

The NCAA Leadership Forum, created 20 years ago, positively impacts the lives of student-athletes, administrators and coaches by providing leadership tools for personal, as well as professional, growth. The two Summit League representatives plan to transfer this experience to the new year and continue to enrich the communities in which they impact.

"The NCAA Forum stretches your mind," said Helm, "The experience demonstrated there is so much room to grow and make an impact on people in athletics, and always on people in life after the game."

Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three 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), 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 with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 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.