June 16, 2015


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Eager and motivated to embark on a valuable learning experience, participants of the inaugural Wolstein Leadership Academy began their journey with a student and staff retreat Saturday at Camp Mary Orton in Columbus. The retreat, which featured team-building activities, seminars and skill assessments, served as an introduction to the Wolstein Leadership Academy and introduced student-athletes to their peers and teachers. 

“The retreat was really fun,” Andrea Kacsits, a rising senior on the Ohio State women’s volleyball team said. “I thought it was interesting how Ohio State Athletics is comprised of so many different teams and student-athletes, yet a lot of us never have the opportunity to get to know each other. To be put in an environment where I didn’t know many people at first, but at the end of the day felt like I have known everyone forever was a lot of fun. We could feel comfortable to be ourselves and talk on the same level as others who are students and athletes.”

In an effort to develop and nurture the leadership skills necessary for achievement on and off the playing field, the Ohio State Department of Athletics recently initiated the Wolstein Leadership Academy, comprised of approximately 60 Ohio State student-athletes selected to participate in the development program based on recommendations from coaches.

The leadership development continued on Tuesday, as the group took part in its first of seven weekly sessions, which will feature a collection of speakers throughout the summer. Divided into three groups based on class rank, student-athletes will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of industry leaders. 

The focus of the first session was on learning how to lead and work as a team.

Tonia Irion, president of e-Cycle, spoke with the third-year group on employee and team engagement. She discussed founding e-Cycle, a global company focused on wireless mobile buyback, data protection and recycling for businesses and organizations with her husband, Christopher, and their philosophy for bringing employees together for the common purpose.

Irion also touched on the importance of developing a team’s core values, communication and culture, as well as having passion and commitment for the cause.

“There were a couple of points she made I thought were really interesting,” Kacsits said. “One in particular was regarding Steve Jobs and how he was not necessarily passionate about computers, but passionate about allowing people to unleash their creativity. When you think of Steve Jobs, you think of computers, but the idea of finding your passion, at this point in my life, that’s a really big deal. His passion was something he was able to build a career out of.”

Ben Carignan, assistant director of Student-Athlete Support Services (SASSO), spoke with the first-year group on personal accountability, while Bill Wadley, the Ohio State men’s swimming head coach, addressed the second-year group on building and maintaining relationships.

Participants of the Wolstein Leadership Academy will share their experiences with weekly blog entries soon to be available on