CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Richard A. Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy celebrated its ninth year of excellence in student-athlete leadership training at its year-end banquet, held April 15 in the Concourse Club of the Blue Zone. The event, attended by students, coaches and administrators, included its hallmark elements as well as several new additions.
"During the 2012-13 school year, we provided more than 6,000 hours of leadership training for our student-athletes, and this event is the celebration of all that hard work," said Shelley Johnson, Director of the bCLA. "It's been a great year for all levels of the Leadership Academy, and our banquet capped the year perfectly."
Jake Matthai, a member of the men's lacrosse team, spoke on behalf of the freshmen, all of whom participate in the CREED program for first-year students. He praised his CREED mentor, Jarrod James, a sophomore on the football team, and said that the program was a great way to meet other Tar Heel freshmen and get oriented to the University. "I feel blessed to be in a place where student-athletes can receive this much guidance and attention to the important role that leadership plays throughout our lives, in sports but also academically and socially," he said.
Gerard Iervolino, a member of the men's fencing team, delivered the Rising Stars reflection. Looking back on his time in the program, he told the crowd, "An effective leader inspires those around them in specific ways that allows them to gain their peers' trust, respect and commitment to the goal at hand. Effective inspiration is one aspect that I plan to be able to take with me after leaving Carolina."
A new addition to the banquet was recognition of the GAP Year program, which has spent the past two years in a pilot stage before becoming an official part of the curriculum in 2012-13. Marta Malmberg, a member of the field hockey team, spoke about the program, which includes a year-long project in addition to leadership training. "Having completed our projects, we would all agree that having the opportunity to leave an impact was an incredibly rewarding experience," Malmberg told the audience.
Clayton Parros, a senior and captain on the men's track and field team, spoke on behalf of the Veteran Leaders, the top level in leadership training. A recipient of the Tar Heel Leader of Distinction Award, Parros shared with the audience some of the lessons he has learned during his four years at UNC. "Leaders may not and will not be perfect, but they are able to recognize mistakes, admit to them, learn from them and move on, helping others to avoid the same mistakes," he said. "A leader is someone who can perform under pressure or be an encouragement when they themselves are not performing well."
Volleyball coach Joe Sagula spoke on behalf of his peers, sharing the ways that his staff incorporates the "five pillars of transformational experience" and addresses players' needs at different phases of their time at UNC. Several coaches received Coaches Certification through the Leadership Academy. They maintained certification criteria for a two-year period. The criteria prescribe best practices in personal leadership development as well as partnering leadership development efforts of student-athletes.
The evening's pinnacle was the recognition of Tar Heel Leaders of Distinction for 2012-13. Just nine student-athletes, all members Veteran Leaders program, earned the highly-selective distinction this year. They are Joseph Alter (men's fencing), Patrick Barrett (men's golf), Ryan Creighton (men's lacrosse), Kent Emanuel (baseball), Jordan Gafa (men's soccer), Scott Goodwin (men's soccer), Maura Masatsugu (gymnastics), Clayton Parros (men's track and field) and Jenna Rodgrigues (women's fencing).
Helping to honor the Leaders of Distinction was Director of Athletics Emeritus Dick Baddour, for whom the academy was renamed in 2012.
"All of the speakers did a great job, and we were pleased to have with us so many members of our department administration and also the campus community," Johnson said. "It was a fitting finale for our ninth year."