WINONA, Minn. – The 2017 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Student-Athlete Leadership Conference took place this past weekend on the campus of Saint Mary's University. This was the third time the MIAC has put on the event with more than 90 student-athletes selected to attend the two-day conference which focused on strengthening their leadership skills and building relationships with student-athletes from all 13 member schools. The conference featured educational sessions, a personality assessment (DiSC), team-building activities, group breakout sessions, Special Olympics unified games and new this year, a social media challenge.
Keynote speaker Ryan Bowles, Athletic Director from St. Olaf, opened the conference with a session on "Why DIII?" discussing the benefits and opportunities Division III student-athletes have during their time in collegiate competition and life after athletics. The first day included a low ropes course activity which focused on team building and challenged the student-athletes to work with peers from other sports and member institutions. Each student-athlete also participated in a DiSC assessment, which provided an opportunity to understand their personalities and how those characteristics make them effective leaders.
Nicole LaVoi, Ph.D, a MIAC alumnus and staple of the MIAC Leadership Conference, worked with the athletes to come up with strategies to build a great team culture. The evening session, presented by The Ross Initiative in Sports Equality (RISE), highlighted diversity and inclusion in sports. After a full day of educational sessions, the student-athletes were able to wind down with s'mores and field games.
Day two opened up with a Special Olympics Minnesota Unified Activity and a session on identifying transferable skills from being a student-athlete into the workplace. Mental Health and Mental Training was a key topic at this year's conference, with a session led by Dr. Troy Moles from Premier Sport Psychology and another by Dr. Cindra Kampoff, adding an interactive session on mentally preparing leaders for competition. A familiar face to the conference, St. Thomas psychology professor and head men's basketball coach John Tauer, guided student-athletes during a session on, "Goal Setting and Motivation."
The conference commenced with an effective communication discussion led by 2011 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Katy Smith. During this segment, each institution created an individual activation plan and an institution action plan to implement lessons learned over the weekend back on each respective campus.
The MIAC thanks the student-athletes and institutional representatives for their attendance, as well as the talented presenters who shared their expertise throughout the conference. The MIAC would also like to thank Saint Mary's University and its staff for all the efforts to provide a first-rate location for the conference.
The MIAC has a photo gallery from the event on its website. Throughout the conference, the MIAC and attendees also used the hashtag #MIACLead on Twitter and Instagram to share their experiences on social media.