This article was written by Sydney Kohne for The Red & Black. To view the original article, click here.
On Oct. 15, four members of the Georgia volleyball team were inducted to the university’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Academy, bringing the total number of volleyball players in the young program to five.
The University of Georgia Athletic Association has created a leadership program engineered for athletes in mind. LEAD encourages student-athletes to develop their leadership skills in their athletic, academic and future professional careers.
This year, LEAD inducted more volleyball players than any other sport, with the exception of track and field, a sport that outnumbers volleyball in athletes nearly five to one. Inductees include Meghan Donovan, Syndey Gilliam, Anna Kate Karstens and Caroline Ostman. They join Kendall Kazor who was inducted last year.
“I was actually joking to my wife earlier, all four of those girls I’ve asked to adopt, they’re just such amazing people,” head coach Tom Black said. “It definitely speaks to the quality of the people.”
LEAD aims to aid student-athletes become strong role models and students by working with them on their community service, involvement in clubs and organizations, and academic performance, as well as helping to prepare for graduate school. LEAD’s participants include students from multiple sports at the university, but five have been selected from the volleyball community since it’s beginning, four alone this school year.
Even though his players were just initiated, Black has high hopes for how the program can help them.
“[LEAD’s] such an elite program,” he said. “It’s so special with the opportunities it gives to student athletes.”
LEAD offers resources necessary to compete for scholarships as well as conference and national awards, such as NCAA Woman of the Year award and the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship.
“It’s a real honor to be a part of,” Karstens said. “I’m looking into nursing after school and there’s a role called a clinical nurse leader that I’m actually applying for right now.”
She hopes to incorporate what she learns from LEAD in the nursing arena to help patients and organize clinical trials and the like.
Donovan, who already has three SEC Player of the Week awards under her belt this season, thinks that being a part of LEAD will be a boost for the volleyball team.
“The speakers that come in to talk to us tell us how they got to where they are and speak on the theme of growing, and you can really translate that onto the court, so I think that’s going to be a huge tool for us.”
On Monday night, a Navy SEAL came in to speak to the new LEAD inductees, a point Karstens and Donovan described on as eye-opening for their first meeting.
“He talked to us about how you should keep your front porch cleaned first, and having all your stuff together before helping other people and taking responsibility as a leader,” Donovan said.
The new inductees are hoping to be able to use the advice and stories they hear from guest speakers and translate them to the court. “Keeping your front porch clean” is just the first maxim in a line of many to help the players become better leaders and more successful in their matches.
“It just speaks to the people they are,” said Black. “We just are lucky to have them and have that many.”