CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - In celebrating its sixth year, the Carolina Leadership Academy honored student-athletes who successfully completed the Veteran Leaders and Rising Stars programs for 2009-10. Also honored at the CLA's annual banquet, held on April 12 at UNC's Friday Center, were 19 recipients of the group's highest recognition, the Tar Heel Leader of Distinction Award.
"All of us involved with the Carolina Leadership Academy are so proud of how it has grown in the six years since its formation," said John Blanchard, senior associate director of athletics at UNC and the evening's emcee. "We have seen leadership training in action, helping our student-athletes to be more successful. Our annual banquet gives us the chance to honor and recognize those whose leadership skills have put them at the very top level of our program. We applaud their performance, as well as their potential, and thank them for the outstanding way in which they've represented UNC."
Tar Heel Leaders of Distinction for 2009-10 are Caroline Boneparth (women's soccer), Kristen Carr (women's lacrosse), May-Lynne Chen-Contino (women's fencing), Illse Davids (field hockey), Kristi Eveland (women's soccer), Katelyn Falgowski (field hockey), Danielle Forword (field hockey), Ali Hawkins (women's soccer), Ashley Howard (women's swimming and diving), Tina Jacob (gymnastics), Kyle Jolly (football), Christine Knauer (softball), Jason McLaughlin (men's swimming and diving), Matt Merletti (football), Anna Roberts (softball), Jenn Russell (women's lacrosse), Jennifer Sawicki (women's fencing), Kristen Taylor (women's lacrosse) and Kara Wright (gymnastics).
Boneparth, Hawkins, Jacob, Russell and Wright earned the honor for the second year in a row.
The evening began with remarks from Dick Baddour, UNC's Director of Athletics and the driving force behind the program's creation.
Freshman Alex McClelland, a member of the rowing team, delivered the CREED leadership reflection, representing first-year student-athletes, all of whom take part in the CLA's leadership foundation program.
Thomas Wood, a sophomore on the men's lacrosse team, spoke on behalf of the Rising Stars, a select group of sophomores and juniors that provides future leaders with insights, strategies and skills to help them as they seek to become effective leaders.
Casey Burns, a senior on the field hockey team, spoke on behalf of the Veteran Leaders, the program for team captains and leaders at the highest level.
Jeff Janssen, Co-Director of the CLA, shared remarks entitled "Discovering and Giving Your Gift of Leadership".
Each Tar Heel of Distinction Award winner was introduced by a teammate who is also a CLA participant.
As the nation's premier leadership development program in collegiate athletics, the Carolina Leadership Academy develops, challenges and supports student-athletes, coaches and staff in their continual quest to become world-class leaders in athletics, academics and life.