The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, proud members of NCAA Division III, conducted its fourth Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Feb. 5-7, 2016. The event’s funding comes primarily from the NCAA’s Strategic Initiatives Grant, which annually makes available about $16,000 to the conference for student-athlete programming.
"I am so inspired when I am able to spend time with our students in a forum like this," said Iowa Conference Commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen. "They immerse themselves in the key parts of the NCAA’s strategic initiatives for three days of focused programming, interaction and fun. The NCAA, the best collegiate sports organization in the world, makes it all possible."
Luther College student athletes who attend the two day conference were Madison Crow (Jr., Vadnais Height, Minn.), Melisse Chasse (Jr. Apple Valley, Minn.), Taylor Gaide (So., Pueblo, Colo.), Madeline Petellin (Jr., Enumclaw, Wash.), Dante Joseph (Fr., Layton, Utah), Patrick Larson (Jr., Decorah, Iowa), Ahmen Osman (So., Avondale, Ariz.), and Mitch Van Epps (So., Wild Rose, Wis.). Assistant men's soccer coach James Garcia Prats was the athletic staff representative.
The conference began Friday evening at the Cedar Rapids Marriott as Peyton Owens III, Assistant AD for Student-Athlete Services, introduced the group to the DiSC Assessment. DiSC is a personality test that provides "insight on an individual's unique behavioral styles and how those styles affect the way the individual communicates with others.” Mr. Owens followed up with another DiSC session on Saturday morning, all along enforcing his “We is Greater Than Me” mantra. Dr. Bob Malekoff, Lecturer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, now has presented at all four of the Leadership Conferences. Dr. Malekoff conducted a session about the job search on Saturday morning and then followed up with a session of mock “case-study” leadership situations that required analysis and recommended action from the attendees.
The Iowa Conference is currently in the midst of a strategic visioning process, working with Mark Majeski of Majeski Athletic Consulting. Mr. Majeski presented after lunch and was able not only to describe the process to the students but also to get feedback he will use in his research. Chris O’Rourke, a student at Becker College, sits on the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for Division III. His conference, the New England Collegiate Conference, shares the SAAC position with the Iowa Conference. Chris, via videoconference, described his role on the committee and updated the group on SAAC activities, including the “It’s On US” campaign to combat sexual assault on campus. He was reinforced by Jay Jones, Associate Director of Division III, who oversees SAAC. Mr. Jones also expanded on Division III’s partnership with Special Olympics.
Christyn Abaray, Director of Athletics and Title IX Coordinator at Buena Vista University, provided a very frank discussion of the sexual-assault issue. Included in her presentation was the “Tea Consent” video that adds some levity to a very serious topic. The video has almost 2 million views on YouTube. Commissioner Yrigoyen wrapped up Saturday’s programming with a conference-education session that also focused on sportsmanship and fan behavior at athletics contests. Schools agreed to go back to campus with ideas for more positive student sections. Saturday night was a time activity and social time at Planet X Fun Center in Cedar Rapids. Laser tag, indoor mini golf, a caricature artist and arcade games were enjoyed by all.
The event finished Sunday morning with the group split and charged with producing a public service announcement about Special Olympics, the “It’s On US” campaign, sportsmanship and a general Iowa Conference promotional spot. View the finished products on www.iowaconference.com or youtube.com/iowaconf.