ORLANDO--The Sunshine State Conference recently hosted its fourth annual Student-Athlete Advisory Committee E.L.I.T.E. Weekend September 11-12 in Orlando. Barry representatives Paula Mackin (softball) and Harold Holness (baseball) along with SAAC advisor Alison Fitzgerald attended.
“It was a good learning experience, learned about ourselves individually and got to meet people from other schools,” Mackin (black shirt on right) said. “We learned what it takes to be a leader and interact with different types of personalities.”
The E.L.I.T.E. acronym stands for “Experience and Leadership Ignite Teamwork and Excellence.” Each of the SSC’s nine member institutions was represented at the event by one male representative, one female representative, and an advisor.
“The E.L.I.T.E. Weekend brings together some of the best and brightest student-athletes from our conference and allows them to work together on improving their leadership skills and learning more about themselves and their individual communication style,” SSC Commissioner Jay Jones said. “This year, we were also very fortunate to be joined by Dr. Rich Luker, who worked with the students on ways to improve our conference community engagement efforts. I believe the students really enjoyed their weekend and hopefully came away with a renewed sense of both self and community.”
On Saturday, the student-athletes had an opportunity to take the DiSC Personality Test. Once determining which of the four behavioral styles best described their personality, participants gathered with those who shared their style to assess the strengths and weaknesses resulting from their behavioral tendencies. Other activities throughout the weekend helped the students understand ways to communicate more effectively with those whose personality styles differed from their own.
“During the exercise, I learned that I was a ‘S’,” Holness (black shirt on left) said. “Our leadership roles develop along with our personality types. We learned about how to work as a team and how to engage the community through service and activities. The weekend allowed me to work on my leadership skills so that I could bring them back to my school and make positive changes in my environment.”
Saturday evening, the participants gathered at the SSC office in Winter Park for a scavenger hunt along Park Avenue. Teams of three to four student-athletes used clues to scurry along the mile-long strip of shops and restaurants, performing “challenges” along the way in order to obtain their next clue.
On Sunday, Dr. Luker met with the group to discuss principles for building community in the areas in which their institutions are located. Luker authored the book, “Simple Community,” and helped develop the NCAA Division II community engagement strategy. The SSC SAAC agreed to join an initiative with Leadership Florida to study the role of community in an individual’s college choice, as well as its influence when students choose where to pursue careers following graduation.
Also on Sunday, the group held its business session and selected two new conference SAAC officers. Wayne Sears and Emma Docking, both Eckerd College student-athletes, were elected as vice president and secretary, respectively. The SSC’s annual service day at the Give Kids the World Village, the NCAA Division II Make-A-Wish fundraiser, and the SSC SAAC donation competition were also points of discussion.
The event is made possible through funding received as part of the NCAA Division II grant program. In addition, Jason’s Deli provided a complimentary lunch for participants on Saturday. Tropical Smoothie Café also partnered with the SSC to provide lunch on Sunday.