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March 26, 2014

Golden Eagle student-athletes, staff learn what it takes to be a leader


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- First it was a contingent of Tennessee Tech's student-athletes, followed by the Golden Eagle coaching staff and administrators the next morning, spending time with Becky Bedics, an OVC-sponsored speaker who teaches how to be better leaders.

Her appearances on the Tech campus were part of an initiative from Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche to expose student-athletes and staff members to a message on tactics and traits of leadership. It was a message that was especially effective for the members of the Golden Eagle teams, who took part in the open discussion fostered by the speaker.

"Our student-athletes were amazing," said TTU Director of Athletics Mark Wilson. "They were engaged, and I could already see some of them beginning to emerge as leaders."

The OVC is the only conference in the nation to support this program comprehensively, Wilson told the staff and administrators. "I appreciate that Beth DeBauche has taken a lead in this program, and has set it up for all of the schools in the conference. I think we all will benefit from this time."

Bedics serves as the Director of Leadership Development for Collegiate Sports at the Janssen Sports Leadership Center, facilitating Leadership Summits for DI, DII, DIII, NAIA, and NJCAA schools.

She has a wealth of experience, having directed the national CHAMPS/Life Skills program for the NCAA for nine years. She co-created and facilitated the NCAA's Leadership Conference involving thousands of student-athletes each year. A former Division I softball player at Dayton, she earned her doctorate in Sport Psychology from West Virginia University.

Speaking with energy and enthusiasm which exhibited an absolute commitment to her message, Bedics encouraged -- and received -- strong group participation in the discussions. She showed a talent for asking the right questions that had everyone in the room willing and anxious to give their responses and share ideas.

"I thought it was beneficial to our staff as well as our student-athletes," said assistant women's basketball coach Allison Clark. "It was good to refresh us and remind us that we all have leadership roles, and how important it is to lead in the right way, and to teach our kids so they are better prepared to take on a leadership role.

"I talked with our players who attended Tuesday night, and they said they got a lot out of it," Clark added. "They don't always understand that they are in a leadership role. It's not always the best player, or the most vocal player, and it was good for them to realize that anybody can lead. Whether it's on the floor, in the locker room, or in the community, it's an important aspect of being part of a team. It was good for our players to hear that from her. It's a way to help teach them to be accountable for the role they have here, and that little eyes are always watching."

In giving definitions and examples of effective team leaders, Bedics exposed the types of team "leaders" who can bring a team downward. She outlined the traits that ensure effective and positive leaders. Among the traits were leaders who ensure high standards and work ethics, show mental toughness during adversity, build better team chemistry and help manage conflicts.

According to assistant men's basketball coach Brian Kloman, the message Bedics delivered will echo with the Golden Eagles.

"It was good to get an outside perspective on leadership, and the value of leadership," Kloman said. "What I took away from the seminar is some different alternatives for our staff to use. We have a duty to help our student-athletes be leaders. We expect them to be captains and leaders, but we don't really spend any time teaching them how to do that.

"It showed us that it is our responsibility to find and develop the traits they need to become good leaders," he added.