Black Mountain, N.C. has been home to the SoCon’s Student-Athlete Leadership Institute (SALI) for many years, and 2012 was no different. For the 17th time, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members from each of the SoCon’s twelve member institutions traveled to the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain to learn leadership characteristics and strategies. The group that met July 20-22, 2012 are the newly appointed Southern Conference SAAC and will now act as a league-wide SAAC, working together toward common goals. After participating in SALI, the student-athletes now have the opportunity to take what information they have gathered back to their campuses.
SALI began Friday afternoon as participants from each institution created posters to illustrate their schools, campuses, and towns. This served as a “get-to-know-you” session, after which the group was split into six sections and the leadership and team-building exercises began. Under the direction of facilitators Kevin Ringhofer and Marty Harding, SALI participants discussed everything from on-campus issues to different leadership styles. Two types of leadership styles, named red zone and blue zone, basically split the group in half, started an intense discussion and provided teams for the rest of the weekend’s activities, including the Friday night dodge ball game, which the Blue Zone won in a decisive game five.
Saturday morning began with a special appearance from Southern Conference Commissioner, John Iamarino, who hosted the “Commissioner’s chat”. SALI participants had an opportunity to hear from Commissioner Iamarino on things happening within the conference, as well as an opportunity to ask any questions they had. The group then had a Skype session with former SALI participant and current SoCon Division I National SAAC representative Chris Everett, who was representing the SoCon SAAC in national meetings in Indianapolis, Ind. The participants also got to hear from former SALI participant and current Assistant Director of Georgia Southern University’s Athletic Foundation Caroline Bevillard. Bevillard spoke to the student-athletes about the importance of creating their own brand and how to prepare for the workforce as a student-athlete.
After a full morning of group discussions and guest speakers, SALI participants had the opportunity to go outside and test their new leadership skills on a ropes course. The group divided themselves into teams with members from different institutions and faced their fears on four challenging sections of ropes and obstacles. Saturday evening, SALI participants had the opportunity to go out for a pizza dinner, as well as a few Red Zone vs. Blue Zone rounds on the local mini-golf course.
Sunday morning, as the weekend drew to a close, SALI participants had the opportunity to meet with one another and exchange ideas of SAAC projects, team-building exercises, etc. to take back to their respective campuses. Participants also shared with the group about their SALI experience and what they were going to attempt to implement at their institutions.
It was another successful SALI weekend and friendships were made across many campuses. SAACs became stronger and are committed to being leaders on their respective teams, in the classroom and in the community.