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Courtesy: Duke Athletics
Developing the Ability to L.E.A.D.
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 01/18/2017
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DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke student-athletes recently participated in the semi-annual Leadership Enrichment and Development [L.E.A.D.] Weekend at Quaker Lake Camp in Climax, N.C., from January 13 - 15.  Nearly 60 sophomore, junior, and senior student-athletes from the field hockey, football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer and golf teams attended the Leadership Retreat facilitated by the Duke Athletics Leadership Program.


The L.E.A.D. program focuses on helping leadership group of each team explore and understand their leadership potential through various group and individual activities.  Working in groups comprised of members from each team, these young men and women had the opportunity to problem solve, communicate, discuss, and reflect on individual roles within various team cultures.  In addition, students challenged themselves by pushing some comfort zones and testing their ability to work with others.  Activities included, Team Competitions, High and Low Ropes courses, and a session using the PDP strengths assessment.

Redshirt Freshman Twazanga Mugala of the Duke Football team shares this lesson learned during his L.E.A.D. weekend experience.

“I learned that I must be consistent, I ride my ups and downs too hard and that causes my responses to vary. If necessary I need to take a step back refocus and then respond.”

These student-athletes are selected by their respective coaches to participate in the program in part to the leadership they have shown on their teams and the potential they have to grow as leaders.  During the retreat, theses current and future team leaders serve as mentors and facilitators, leading group discussions on team culture, leadership qualities, and sharing personal experiences.  Leadership theories and practices are also discussed and applied throughout all retreat activities.

One of the highlights was the participation of Sue Gordon ‘80, a distinguished former Duke student-athlete.    Gordon, the Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and formerly with the CIA for over 25 years, shared her experiences on leadership, communication, transition, and teamwork.  

“I loved her part about "allow yourself and others the freedom to be imperfect." This is an idea my team is going to try to implement this spring and hope that we can grow more than ever before from it,” said Duke women’s soccer junior EJ Proctor. 

Overall, the L.E.A.D. experience cultivates self-awareness and reflection on each student-athlete’s leadership journey and culminates with a reflective exercise on what each person has learned and ways to commit to serving as future leaders and in making their respective teams better.

Sophomore Oliver Spring of the men’s soccer team reflects on what were his most enjoyable moments from the weekend.

“I enjoyed being able interact with the different sports teams in a different environment and getting to know each other on a deeper level. As a team we discussed our team culture and identified ways for our team to get better and I look forward to trying to implement them these ideas in the spring.”

L.E.A.D. is made possible in part by a generous gift from the Heidrick Family.

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