The conference, sponsored by the NCAA, was titled “Student-Athlete Development: A Journey of Self Discovery.” Greene and Walkley, along with student-athletes from across the country, participated in a full schedule of events throughout the day.
“Libby and Janelle were nominated to represent William Smith due to their leadership abilities, passion to learn and their ability to positively influence others,” says Heron Athletics Director Deb Steward. “They’ll have the opportunity to share their experience and ideas with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as well as their teammates and coaches.”
Every year, the NCAA accepts 700 student-athletes, roughly 233 from each division, to participate in the conference.
“We were split up into teams that gave us the chance to engage in open dialogue,” says Walkley. “In the team sessions, key ideas and issues related to personal development and future growth were explored.”
They also went to different talks throughout the conference. Some of the sessions were strategic planning, energy management, personal branding, attention control, and leadership and personal planning. There was also a session that fostered discussion about critical issues on campus and how they can use the SAAC to assist in implementing goals.
“We were kept extremely busy with the different topics we had to discuss, but it was necessary to complete the day’s agenda,” says Walkley of the programming that began at 7 a.m. and ran until 10 p.m.
“The conference, though intensive and exhausting, was tremendously instructive and a fantastic opportunity,” says Greene. “I feel like I know myself better, I feel better equipped to lead, and I’m confident that I learned skills that are going to carry over and help me out in academics, work, relationships, and beyond.”
Walkley echoed Greene’s assessment.
“I found it most interesting how I learned so much more beyond leading on the field hockey field and being a student-athlete,” says Walkley. “Some of the things I learned will be put to good use very soon when I’m applying for jobs and pursuing life after William Smith.”
Before either Heron puts these lessons to work in the “real world,” there’s still the matter of their senior seasons.
“I’ve already shared some of these ideas and skills with my teammates, and we intend to incorporate them into our practices and games,” says Greene.
“It was one of the most helpful and rewarding experiences I’ve been afforded through college athletics, almost as good as going to the Final Four.”