WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW student-athletes heard from the general manager of the New York Yankees and networked with Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) officials as a part of the CAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Leadership Summit earlier this month.

The two-day event, hosted by Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., was a collection of workshops, meals, breakout sessions, and guest speakers intended to develop leadership skills and ideas to improve the student-athlete experience on CAA campuses.

“The focus was for all the advisors and athletes to put our heads together and find concrete ways we could make the whole student-athlete experience better,” said SAAC academic advisor Will Libous. “We generated great ideas to get people to collaborate for community outreach and charitable activities for the betterment of our communities.”

Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees, spoke to the attendees about capitalizing on opportunities. Cashman encouraged the participants to set goals and follow through with their actions.

 “Mr. Cashman said some things many of us hear all the time, but it was beneficial and eye-opening to physically see and hear him say it,” said Libous. “He showed up as a surprise guest speaker, and it was motivating to hear what he had to say.”

Freshman Lauren Moore of the softball team was chosen to attend the event because of her leadership potential. Junior Cam Walton, a student-athlete in the track and field program, attended as an upperclassman who has been a positive and influential part of UNCW Athletics.

“I found the skits to be extremely beneficial,” Moore said. “We did a lot of skits that tested our leadership abilities.” Walton agreed with Moore’s description. “We took a leadership test when we arrived to learn what type of leadership qualities we had. The skits allowed us to put that knowledge into practice and it was an excellent learning experience,” said Walton.

“I spoke with the coaches about who should attend, and Lauren really stood out as someone who could benefit from the conference,” said Libous. “We are trying to help her become a foundation of leadership for UNCW student-athletes. I also chose Cam because he always has a positive attitude and shows fantastic responsibility under any circumstances. Both students are an excellent representation of the commitment and passion our student-athletes embody.”

The summit is an annual event, hosted by a different CAA school each year. The purpose is to teach leadership and life skills to student-athletes and the SAAC advisors from each school bounced ideas back and forth to take back to their colleges in workshops.

 “We’ve already come up with some great ideas that we plan on working to make happen. I learned that we really need to expose the athletes to the officials behind the scenes of SAAC to maximize the potential for leadership growth and development,” Libous added.

“It’s all about the student-athletes, and the leadership summit was a fantastic way to help them to make the most of their opportunities at UNCW.”