Athletics News

George Washington University Launches New Student-Athlete Leadership Academy

GW is launching a student-athlete leadership academy this month in an effort to help develop the next generation of leaders both in competition and life.

Aug. 30, 2011

The George Washington University is launching a student-athlete leadership academy this month in an effort to help develop the next generation of leaders both in competition and life.

"Our students have a passion for changing the world and programs like this will help them grow to be leaders both in and outside of the classroom," said Patrick Nero, GW Department of Athletics and Recreation Director.

The Academy will be run by Janssen Sports Leadership Center, which manages leadership academies at other top universities, including North Carolina, Michigan and Yale. According to the company, 85 percent of participants at the schools said the program had a positive effect on their teams performance, and at Michigan, 100 percent of student-athletes improved their leadership scores.

The George Washington Student-Athlete Leadership Academy will develop, challenge and support student-athletes and their coaches in their quest to become world-class leaders in athletics, academics and life. The academy will provide comprehensive and innovative leadership development through education, interactive workshops, 360-degree feedback, one-on-one coaching, peer mentoring and online training. The new program is part of the university's overall efforts to improve the student-athlete experience as part of its comprehensive review of athletics and development of a strategic plan.

"With the comprehensive scope and intensive depth of programming, the George Washington Student-Athlete Leadership Academy distinguishes GW as having one of the best leadership development programs in collegiate athletics," Nero said. "Not only does this innovative leadership academy maintain and enhance GWs reputation nationally, it provides the department with an advantage in attracting and retaining highly talented student-athletes and coaches."

There will be six training sessions each school year, beginning in September, with follow-up meetings in between sessions.

Of the 433 student-athletes at GW, about 100-120 will go through the program initially. Eventually, the vast majority of student-athletes on all of GW's 22 teams likely will have participated in some level of the program before they graduate. Each team will be represented by at least two members and one head or an assistant coach. The program is launching with two specific groups in mind: the Emerging Leaders program for sophomores and juniors and Veteran Leaders for established leaders who are juniors and seniors. The Leadership 360 program for seniors will be added next school year.

Nero said the student-athletes who have been told about the program are very excited and eager to get started, while the coaches see it as a huge opportunity for their programs and their student-athletes.

"It is critical to have really strong and clear leadership across the board, and the GW Student-Athlete Leadership Academy will give participants the confidence and skills they need to be effective leaders on their teams and in the classroom as well as highly marketable leadership skills for their careers," said Karen Ercole, GW Department of Athletics and Recreation Executive Director of Academic Assistance.

The academy also will ease the transition of freshmen and transfer students and give student-athletes the tools they need to meet challenges, Nero said.

While a majority of student-athletes who have participated in leadership academies at other schools say their teams have played better as a result, Nero said the benefits go beyond winning.

"We want our student-athletes to be successful both in competition and life," he said.