DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke student-athletes recently participated in the Leadership Enrichment and Development [L.E.A.D.] weekend at Quaker Lake Camp in Climax, NC, from January 12 - 14. Over fifty student-athletes from the Field Hockey, Football, Volleyball, Men's and Women's Soccer and Men's and Women's Golf teams attended the Leadership Retreat facilitated by the Duke Athletics Leadership Program.
The L.E.A.D. program focuses on helping leadership groups from 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 their individual roles as sophomores, juniors, and seniors within their various team cultures. In addition, students challenged themselves in the ways they can become better leaders and teammates by pushing their comfort zones and testing their abilities to lead, motivate, and communicate with each other. These shared peer experiences play a pivotal role in assisting these student-athletes with extending their personal leadership development to their respective teams, within Duke Athletics, on campus and in local communities.
Kat McDonald, a member of the 2017 Final Four Duke Women’s Soccer team, reflected on her experience and the relational benefit it had for her team and the other teams. “L.E.A.D. weekend helped us form relationships between teams that wouldn’t have been made otherwise, but it also strengthened our internal team relationships and secured a foundation for continued growth.”
Each member who participated is a student-athlete selected by their coaches because of the current leadership qualities they display as well as their potential growth as leaders. During the retreat, Seniors serve as mentors and facilitators, leading group discussions on team culture, leadership qualities, values, and sharing their own personal experiences. The Senior leaders are an essential part of L.E.A.D. as it gives them a chance to utilize the leadership skills they have developed at Duke.
Jamie Sands, current Commander Naval Special Warfare Group TWO and former Counter Terrorism and Public Policy Fellow at Duke was the keynote speaker. Commander Sands used his experiences as a Nay SEAL to focus his presentation on the topic of how being a good teammate is an essential leadership trait. He defined good teammates as individuals who have the capability to hold each other accountable to a set of team standards.
Leadership theories and practices were discussed and applied throughout all retreat activities. L.E.A.D. culminates with a reflective exercise on what each student-athlete has learned about themselves and their team and how they can commit to serving as future leaders to make their respective teams better.
Asked about his L.E.A.D. experience, Shrish Dwivedi, a junior on the men's golf team replied, “We were able to delve into our strengths and shortcomings on a more individual basis. Being open and vulnerable with each other made us realize that despite our varied backgrounds, we all are committed to seeing each other succeed. As such we no doubt know with great certainty that we can rely on each other.”
L.E.A.D. is made possible in part by a generous gift from the Heidrick Family.