Big South Student-Athletes Enjoy Impactful Leadership Weekend


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Big South Conference hosted its seventh annual Student-Athlete Leadership Weekend July 13-15 at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, N.C.  A total of 47 student-athletes representing 17 of the Conference's 19 sports were in attendance to develop lessons in leadership, both for their respective campus and also for their careers and futures.  Big South Collegiate Partner Musco Lighting supported and participated in the event.

Utilizing the theme "The Passion to Lead," the student-athletes were encouraged to find their passion and talked about success and about the leadership legacy they wanted to leave at their institution. 

Guest speakers included:

  • Beverly Benfield, doctoral candidate at Liberty University (keynote speaker)
  • Mike Limpach, Regional Sales Manager at Musco Lighting
  • Dina Neeley, Field Sales Representative at Musco Lighting
  • Jody Davis, Director of Campus Recreation at Coastal Carolina University
  • Kyle Kallander, Big South Conference Commissioner

In addition to the leadership workshops, the student-athletes also participated in a community service project with ReCreation Experience and provided assistance to a local family in need of fixing and cleaning their home's exterior and landscaping.

"This year was different from any other conference," said Coastal Carolina senior women's track & field athlete Jess Dennison.  "This year I was able to discover how much the small things in life really count.  It was such a blessing to see a large group of people come together and accomplish so much this weekend.  Not only did we accomplish a lot but we also learned that each of us have our very own definition of passion for ourselves.  This week was full of fun, seriousness, faith, and education!"

The Big South Conference Student-Athlete Leadership Weekend was developed in 2005 to bring together top student-athletes from the Conference's member institutions and to provide them with leadership tools to use on their respective campuses during the year, as well as to provide them with an opportunity to interact with other student-athletes on a non-competitive level.  The event has grown steadily since its inception and is coordinated by Big South Associate Commissioner Dawn Turner.

"I cannot express in words how much of a blessing and help these athletes and their leaders were to our organization and especially to the family," stated David Torbett, Director of ReCreation Experience.  "They came in and without hesitation threw themselves entirely into the work.  They completed in hours what would have been a very long and expensive task for the family.  These young people gave of themselves and created a safe and easily maintained environment for this family.  They gave the children back a place they can now go outside and play in.  The family's tears of gratitude at the end of the day spoke clearly that we all were blessed to have worked side by side with Dawn Turner and the participants of the Big South Leadership Conference event.  All we can say is 'Thank You.'"

"The Big South Conference Leadership Weekend is a cornerstone of our efforts to 'walk the talk,'" added Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander.  "Developing Leaders Through Athletics is about more than lessons learned on the field, court and track, though those are important.  Through the Leadership Weekend we can help student-athletes develop their leadership skills, and give them ideas for how to share this with others on their campuses.  I am always so impressed with the leadership qualities of Big South student-athletes, and this year's Leadership Weekend attendees were perhaps the best group yet."

What Big South student-athletes are saying about the 2012 Leadership Weekend:

"Going to the leadership conference is a privilege to me.  I have been for the last two years and I have learned something different and new about myself each time.  Those who put the conference together and the speakers are awesome and truly care to influence our lives.  The entire experience has definitely made a positive impact on my life."
- Laura Whitt, High Point women's basketball player

"I have been to Leadership Conference three straight years and I wish I could go every year of my life.  Each time I am inspired and motivated in amazingly different ways.  LC definitely brings the best out of me, and I love taking what I have learned back to my teammates and University.  This year especially touched my heart when we went and helped out a family in need.  It was one of the greatest feelings and best moments of my life.  It was like watching a miracle happen, and I cherish the memory of being a part of it.  I truly admire every speaker that takes time out of their busy lives to come speak to our group as well as Dawn and the rest of the people that make this thing happen every year."
- Morgan Eye, Radford softball player

"This was my third year at the Big South SAAC Leadership Conference.  I look forward to this conference every year and as a redshirt junior I am excited about the fact that I get to go back next year for a fourth year.  We learn so many things, such as the quality of teamwork and what leadership really means, and have a great time competing against each other in games that we participate in while we are there.  Lasting relationships have been made for me where I want to go support not only the teams at my school but the teams of the people that were at this conference.  We really have a great time connecting with each other meeting new people."
- Hudson Smith, Gardner-Webb football player

"The Big South does the leadership conference right.  It's extremely obvious that they have a passion to see student athletes become leaders."
- Trey Wimmer, Liberty baseball player