May 6, 2019

2019 Spring Wolstein Leadership Academy

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Forty-six student-athletes hit the road to Camp Damascus in Centerburg, Ohio Monday morning to take part in the Wolstein Leadership Academy (May 6-8). Buckeyes from all sports took a step away from athletics and academics to sharpen their leadership skills as part of the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute.

Ohio State Buckeyes

The spring retreat is a leadership intensive, three-day, two-night retreat. While at the retreat, student-athletes participate in a variety of leadership discussions, activities, and guest speakers.

Through the Wolstein Challenge, student-athletes are tasked with implementing their new skills through high-energy activities that simulate athletic competition. Additionally, five leadership sessions are offered throughout the academic year to foster continuous leadership growth.

Day One

The student-athletes arrived at the campground and immediately separated into teams Scarlet, Gray, Woody, Carmen, Brutus and Sloopy. After a few icebreaker activities and a group photo, all of the groups split off to set goals and expectations while getting to know their teammates for the next few days.

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In their small groups, student-athletes began a dialogue about the makings of a leader and strategic leadership. During the day, student-athletes learned about and shared the results of their Strength Finder test (which was completed prior to arriving a WLA). The results were used to discuss their talents and how they related to their top strengths, so individuals may understand how they think feel and behave in certain situations.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes

Outdoor activities played a role in building on some of the skills student athletes would be learning. For example, a high ropes course focused on a team and individual’s attitude and motivation. In the low ropes course, groups exercised communication skills and trust to complete the task.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes

That’s a wrap from Day one!

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Day Two

Ohio State Buckeyes

Accountability, feedback and initiative were the themes throughout Day 2 of the Wolstein Leadership Academy. The first session of the day provided groups to discuss how to take responsibility for their actions, and understand consequences of those actions. Additionally, student-athletes focused on how they have and can continue to learn from their mistakes and handle setbacks.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes

While feedback as a student-athlete is inevitable, WLA participants analyzed the concept and how to receive, provide and implement feedback. Throughout the outdoor activities (high ropes, low ropes and lake activities), peer leaders drove these points home with adding tasks during and questioning after participation. Questions and prompts included, “who would you like to complement for their actions during [this activity]?” or “what could have been done differently to have a better outcome?”

Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes

The final part of the Wolstein Challenge had teams competing in six different activities putting all of their newly developed or finely tuned skills to the test. The activities included a paddle board race, a team eating challenge, a group “unknotting” activity and a puzzle race. In the end, Team Carmen came out as victors.

Ohio State Buckeyes

A perfect ending to Day Two!

Ohio State Buckeyes

Day Three

The May 2019 edition of the Wolstein Leadership Academy has wrapped but not before one last lesson for participating student-athletes. The goal of Day 3 was to understand inspirational leadership, empowerment and the “how” of becoming a leader.

Ohio State Buckeyes

In the morning, the group was treated to guest speaker Brock Mealer. Mealer was left paralyzed after a car accident on Christmas Eve 2007, an accident that also claimed the lives of his father and his brother’s girlfriend. Given a 1% chance to walk again, he presented to the group his motivation, inspiration and belief system that drove him to keep going. Today, Mealer walks with the assistance of canes and also speaks all over the country about his experience and continued growth.

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Following that speech, the group broke up into their smaller teams to discuss how empowerment happens through delegation. The smaller group talks were also opportunities for student-athletes to debate the difference between motivation and empowerment.

The day wrapped with the group reflecting back on the past three days and how to translate what’s been learned back home. Each student-athlete set three goals: one academic, one athletic and one personal.

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