By: Jacob Shindel, Assistant Editor
Through mock interviews with media personnel, attending a networking event with faculty and Towson University (TU) alumni or listening to guest speakers, the Leadership Enhancement and Development (L.E.a.D.) Tiger program works to set student-athletes up for future success.
Student-athletes selected to participate in the program are recommended to a panel of four sports administrators by coaches, teammates and former alumni. After being selected to join the program, student-athletes are given a mix of individual and group activities, which include bonding activities, guest speakers and events.
This program is also relatively new, with its earliest students being of the inaugural 2014-2015 class, only a couple of years removed from college. Despite the recency of the program, some athletes are already seeing the benefits.
“The program taught me standards that we should hold each other to, but it also taught me how to create standards for yourself,” said sophomore outfielder for Men’s Baseball, Javon Fields.
Fields’, who participated in the program for the 2019-2020 term, says his time with the program got cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the program is working on ways to finish the term in the future for the 12 participants that didn’t get the full experience.
“Our hope is to finish up those two programs with the 2019-2020 class, and then be able to kind of start fresh in the fall,” said Tricia Brandenburg, Deputy Director of Athletics at TU and leader of the program.
According to Brandenburg, the program was put on pause this year due to the pandemic, so there will not be a class of 2020-21. As a result, program leaders are considering doing a double group next year. This could mean either doing a group twice the size as usual, or two separate groups.
When Tigers first enter the program, Brandenburg noted it’s typical for them to be quiet and shy.
“One of the things that’s awesome to see through the program is how people come out of their shell, gain more confidence and build those relationships with athletes,” Brandenburg said.
One of the more memorable experiences from the program for Fields came when the group was tasked with completing a puzzle. However, they did not know what the puzzle pieces were, nor did they know how to complete the puzzle. Before the group was given the task of completing the puzzle, they did a strengths assessment test, and they had to find ways to use their strengths to help the group complete the puzzle.
For Zach Goodrich, a former Towson lacrosse player who participated in the program during the 2016-17 cycle, his favorite memory was learning about interview tactics. At the time, the program brought alumni and media personnel from the University to teach the athletes about interacting with the media, and how to be successful when being interviewed.
The L.E.a.D. Tiger program is designed to identify the student-athletes that demonstrate leadership skills on and off the field, and then put them through a series of activities meant to improve relationships, create connections and build leadership skills that can be used throughout their life.
“I definitely don’t think I would be where I’m at without some of that training that we had, and the kind of the confidence that it gave you,” Goodrich said.