With graduation on the horizon, Veteran Leader student-athletes in the Richard A. Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy met with doctors and emergency medical response staff at UNC Hospitals to learn from the medical personnel about leadership in high pressure situations and then how it can be applied to an athletics context.
The seniors participated in a Q&A with the Director of the Emergency Department, Dr. James Larson, and Clinical Director of Emergency Services, Jeff Strickler. Also in attendance were members of the Carolina Air Care crew for pediatrics and adult care who shared experiences where the call to leadership was the difference between life and death for patients.
According to Shelley Johnson, Director of Carolina Leadership Academy, the trip is unique in that there is mutual admiration between the student-athletes and the medical staff. Just as the athletes have great respect for the doctors and response teams, the medical personnel take pride in the student-athletes representing UNC.
The academy has been collaborating with Strickler for six years now to put on this event every other year for seniors in the organization. For men’s soccer goalkeeper and biology major, Scott Goodwin, the trip gave him a glimpse into the future.
“Being here, hearing from these people was amazing,” said Goodwin. “I’m a biology major, pre-med, hoping to go to med school one day, so hearing what the medical staff go through on a daily basis and how directly correlated their jobs are with some of the values that we have in sports, makes me feel like I have some tools that will help prepare me for (a career in medicine) later on I life. It’s exciting to hear about what could possibly be my future.”
The visit encouraged the athletes to own the type of leader they are, whether it is an enforcer or an encourager. The emergency response team members related the give and take required in their high-pressure situations to how the various positions athletes master fit together to accomplish a team goal.
Caitlin Powers, a goalkeeper on the field hockey team, appreciated the connection medical personnel made between the values she has learned throughout her athletic career and those needed to be successful in the workforce.
“Tonight was a very eye-opening experience,” Powers said. “It showed us everything we learn in the Leadership Academy and all the aspects of teamwork, and how you can apply it to the real world…how everything continues on and teamwork and leadership is such an integral part of your everyday life from beginning to end.”
To wrap up the visit, the medical staff escorted the student-athletes to the helipad for a bird’s-eye view of UNC. While some of the seniors snapped photos of the sparkling campus, others climbed on board one of the hospital’s two critical care helicopters.
Goodwin took the opportunity to reflect on how the Leadership Academy had influenced him over the past three years. “The Leadership Academy has been something great,” said Goodwin. “I’ll be graduating in December, and looking back on it… I really think it’s been a great influence on me as a leader. I think a lot of people go into thinking there’s not really much you can teach in the way of leadership, but they (the academy coordinators) really do a great job of laying out a good foundation and getting you to think about leadership so it’s not something in the back of your mind.”