Mount Olive, N.C. - The University of Mount Olive athletics leadership program held a session for the fourth time during the 2016-17 school year. Under the direction of program leader and UMO Men's Volleyball head coach David Heller, Trojan student-athletes focused on the topics of vulnerability and languages of appreciation.
This fourth session in the program was aimed to help student athletes feel comfortable being themselves on and off the court as well as learning how to support their teammates. During the portion focusing on vulnerability, activities helped spark conversations about embracing differences and provide strategies on how to combat bullying.
"I think it was very comforting and surprising for our student-athletes to see that there are other people on campus that share the same values and have things in common with them that they may never have realized," said Heller. "Everyone is guilty of labeling someone or basing opinions off of a perception, and the members of the leadership program really did a great job identifying why we do this and how to see past differences."
UMO men's volleyball sophomore Brad Monaghan and UMO women's golf junior Julia Kaeding presented on a myriad of topics including words of affirmation and acts of service. Monaghan and Kaeding focused on the ways to communicate in each language, actions to take to demonstrate understanding, and things to avoid to effectively support someone using the languages. Both Monaghan and Kaeding have extensive knowledge on these topics as both were selected to attend the Conference Carolinas Leadership program in November that focused on these same subjects. Current members of the program were then tasked with filling out an assessment on which language they most identify with and would like as a form of support after a game or a training session where they may have struggled. These members are then responsible for having their respective teams complete the assessment. This information will then be compiled and sent to all members of the team and the coaching staffs to help raise awareness of ways to support each other.
"At the end of the day, we all want to be supported in our play, in our school work, in our daily lives," said Heller. "By sharing simple ways to help grow someone else's confidence, we are hoping to create a stronger sense of community, not just in athletics, but across this campus as a whole."
More events will take place in the 2016-17 UMO Leadership program throughout the academic year.