(FREDERICTON, NB) After several intense months of planning and preparation, the UNB Varsity Reds’ Phillips Sports Leadership Academy held its first sessions, on Monday night.
Academy programming leader Jon Crossland, who is also head coach of UNB’s women’s soccer team, said opening night had a familiar feel.
“It almost feels like the start of a season with your team,” said Crossland. “You want to have a good start and set a tone, and get them excited about what’s to come.”
Crossland hosted two sessions on Monday night. One Emerging Leaders session and one for the Veteran Leaders cohort.
Zach Doiron, of the Varsity Reds men’s swimming team, was among the 22 student-athletes attending the Emerging Leaders session.
“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to learning how to become a better leader for my team,” he said.
Monday’s Emerging Leaders session was the inaugural class of the Phillips Sports Leadership Academy.
The launch of the Academy came after a generous gift from UNB alumnus Sonny Phillips, and is wife Coleen. Preparation for the first year of instruction has been taking place for over a year.
Those preparations included Crossland being trained.
He attended the Janssen Sports Leadership Centre, in North Carolina, where he completed Janssen’s “Lead The Leaders” course.
“I’ve got a job to do,” said Crossland. “But they’ve got to be engaged as learners as well.”
Emily Burton is a second year member of the Varsity Reds women’s soccer team. She’s pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
“I was excited to be chosen to be in this program, and am looking forward to learning here,” said Burton.
“I’m hoping this gives me leadership skills, not only for the soccer field, but for life in general. I’m looking at going into Education, so it would definitely help there.”
In the moments before the first session, Crossland was optimistic as the Academy’s first class filed in.
“The comment my wife made was that I was going to have an engaged audience that are keen to learn here, so just enjoy it,” he said.
“They’re going to give feedback, and they’re going to be engaged, and they going to be part of the process as well. They’re going to make this what they want.”
The Emerging Leaders and Veteran Leaders groups will meet once a month, through the remainder of the school year.
A select number from each class will graduate to the next level of Academy instruction, next year.