NEAC Hosts First-Ever Women's Leadership Day

NEAC student-athletes participate in round table discussions with Senior Woman Administrators from around the league.
NEAC student-athletes participate in round table discussions with Senior Woman Administrators from around the league.

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) hosted 33 women on May 23 at the Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa. for the first-ever NEAC Women’s Leadership Day, which served as the kick-off event for the NEAC Annual Retreat.

Thirteen Senior Woman Administrators (SWA) were joined by 20 NEAC female student-athletes for a full slate of activities. Participants opened the morning with a DiSC assessment provided by the NCAA, which allowed each attendee to evaluate their personal behavior and learn how to work with behavioral differences in a team setting.

Cazenovia College SWA Alena Anthony felt the behavioral assessment was a tool that she will continue to use beyond the leadership event. Anthony holds a number of roles for the Wildcats, including Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach and Strength and Conditioning Coach. 

“The DiSC training was an aspect that is applicable to both my current and future career in providing insight on presenting ideas as well as interacting with those in my field,” Anthony reflected.

SUNY Cobleskill’s Gabby Clark also agreed the DiSC assessment provided student-athletes with insight that they can use with teammates. Clark was a member of the Fighting Tigers’ women’s volleyball team and majored in Business Administration.

“The DiSC assessment allowed me to have more tolerance in a group setting and see that the diversity of different personalities allows for team efforts to be more dynamic and successful on and off the court,” Clark added.

Lunch was built around a session on dining and business etiquette, while the afternoon featured presentations on ethics and decision-making. Student-athletes also had an opportunity to participate in round table discussion led by the SWAs on careers in athletics and professional development.

Kelly Colbert serves as the Assistant Athletic Director, SWA, Compliance Officer and Academic Success Coordinator at SUNY Polytechnic. Colbert noted the ethics session as a highlight of the event.

“We worked together in groups and had some great conversations about what you would do in certain situations that really made you think,” Colbert said. 

Penn College Head Softball Coach and SWA Jackie Klahold enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the student-athletes during the round table discussions.

“Each SWA was able to provide great depth and perspective to various areas of a collegiate athletic department, while each student-athlete was able to gain important insight into an SWA’s duties, the many hats we wear, and our role within the department,” Klahold said.

The evening concluded with a dinner for the SWAs in attendance that highlighted the importance of developing a personal brand.

As the first group of women to participate in a NEAC Leadership Day, many expressed hope for a continued program in the future. A number of student-athlete also offered some advice for future attendees.

“Listen closely, pay attention and enjoy every minute of it,” advised Taylor Tommell, SUNY Cobleskill Cross Country Student-Athlete. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak only to women who were once in the same position as you.”

Morrisville State’s Jordan Anderson just completed her senior season with the Mustangs’ women’s basketball and lacrosse teams and shared Tommell’s sentiments.

“You may not be sure of what your future holds, but try to step out of your comfort zone and talks to as many people as you can,” Anderson added.

NEAC Commissioner Candice Murray was thrilled with the outcome of the event and intends to build upon the program in the future.

“I appreciate the work of the NEAC SWAs to bring this idea to life and look forward to making it even better next year,” Murray said. “Having a great group of speakers and participants made it a huge success and we will continue to make sure it meets the needs of our student-athletes in the future.”

The Women’s Leadership Day, which was supported in part by NCAA Division III Diversity Funding, was included in a three-day retreat that is organized annually by the NEAC. The retreat includes annual meetings for Athletic Directors, Direct Reports, Faculty Athletic Representatives, SWAs, Athletic Trainers and Sports Information Directors.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf).  The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s and women’s tennis.  For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.