By Amanda Coelho
With three different leadership programs for college athletes, coaches and administrators, the NCAA covers all bases when it comes to preparing authority figures for their roles in the world of college sports.
Just this month, two Springfield College graduate students, Kaleigh Putnam and Jeff Place, were picked out of a nationwide pool of applicants to be a part of the esteemed programs.
Putnam took part in a three-day virtual program – the Emerging Leaders Seminar, where she and 215 other students from around the country explored techniques to avoid burnout and stay motivated, elevate their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and gain confidence in their leadership expertise.
Place will take part in the Foundations of Fundraising program in June, where participants learn about one of the most crucial aspects of college athletics and introduce the idea of fundraising as a career.
Putnam brought more aspects about the program into light.
“The most valuable thing that I learned was the lesson that in order to be a successful leader, you have to embrace who you are, know who you are, and be confident in that – knowing that you’re a unique individual and that you can’t lead others until you understand it and learn yourself,” Putnam said.
Being true to yourself is a key component in being a great leader — something that Springfield College encompasses in its philosophy and takes very seriously.
The Humanics philosophy of Springfield College is a great primer for students looking for leadership opportunities like NCAA programs and countless other pathways for careers.
“This year I have taken two really impactful classes where we talked about topics similar to Emerging Leaders,” said Putnam, reflecting on the link between her educational experience at Springfield College and her experience at the seminar. “One [of them] was an inclusion class where we talked about having crucial conversations and how to navigate having important diversity, equity and inclusion conversations.”
Director of Athletics Craig Poisson said, “Leadership programs – be they through a national organization like the NCAA or of a more home-grown variety – foster skill sets that allow people to serve others, aligning with our Humanics philosophy.”
The small, close-knit community of Springfield College translates to programs like these and better prepares students for creating close-knit connections in real-life scenarios – athletic or not.
“[To be a great leader], effective communication – including listening skills – is critically important. A mix of the ability to think analytically and conceptually balanced by strong emotional intelligence cannot be overlooked. And, in the end, in my opinion, and it’s something I strive for everyday, the importance of building a climate of trust, understanding, respect, and confidence is paramount,” Poisson said.
Putnam also mentioned that it’s important during these programs for students to “be like a sponge,” and “just soak it all in, because there’s a lot of info thrown at you in such a short period of time.”
Springfield College’s reputation remains strong as more students are developed into leaders and take hold of the opportunities they are provided with on Alden Street. Professional programs like these the NCAA hosts are ways for graduate students to branch out and realize full potential as a leader, all while developing their skill sets and growing as individuals.
Poisson noted that Putnam and Place are just the latest in a line of Springfield College students who have taken advantage of NCAA programming.
“The alignment of Leadership Development programs – the one Kaleigh was selected for, or the brand-new offering that Jeff was selected for, or the one Gus St. Fort is thriving in at present through the (NCAA Division III Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship program), or Colby (Wilson)’s participation at the NCAA Student Immersion Program – all of it augments the leadership development that is so ingrained in the mission of Springfield College,” Poisson said. “So, as I reflect back on the students who took advantage of these opportunities over the years, I really see our mission come to life. And I’m confident the same will apply to Kayleigh and Jeff.”