Two athletes chosen for NCAA leadership conference

October 28, 2010

by Anna Claire Thomas

Two Louisiana Tech student-athletes traveled to Orlando, Fla., this past week to represent Tech athletics at the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.

The event was held Oct. 21-24 at Disney World. Nearly 400 NCAA?student-athletes were expected to attend, but over 600 showed up instead.

Dan Breazeale, a redshirt sophomore infielder on the baseball team, and Nataliya Panova, senior outside hitter for women’s volleyball, were selected to attend the conference.

Breazeale and Panova spent four days at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where they learned leadership skills they possess and the importance of leadership on the field.

The NCAA?began this leadership conference back in 2002, basing it by regions. This year marked the first time the leadership forum took place at one site with an abundance of Division I, II and III athletes learning the importance of being leaders on and off the field.

The conference provided customized sessions designed to enhance the athlete’s abilities and leadership skills. The students explored how behavior and values shape their individual style of leadership, and current issues that affect student-athletes.

The conference was also designed to better the students’ understanding of the NCAA, their specific division and Student Athlete Advisory Committees’ (SAAC)?role.

Breazeale and Panova were investigated by the NCAA and selected to participate in the forum in order to better understand the meaning of being a student-athlete and setting an example for future athletes.

Breazeale said the forum made him understand the importance of being a student-athlete and a leader for his team and school.

“The one thing I learned above all else is the value of being an athlete in college,” Breazeale said. “The main thing I wanted to bring back was the fact that we are an elite group, and being an athlete is something to be proud of. It’s a great experience for all of us and we should be honored to be a part of it.”

Along with learning leadership skills, student-athletes had the chance to interact with each other and discuss different issues affecting collegiate athletes today.

Matt Sonnichsen, head coach for women’s volleyball, said the team and school is honored to be represented by Panova at such a prestigious conference.

“I think it is a nice compliment for the women’s volleyball team that Nataliya was selected es for the student-athletes that never makes it to ESPN SportsCenter.”

Breazeale said he is looking to take the skills he learned at the conference and translate them to the baseball field when the regular season comes around.

“After going to the leadership forum, I know what my skills are and what my strengths and weaknesses are,” Breazeale said. “I feel like I can do a better job of relaying information to people and be the kind of leader that I want to be.”

With so many different skills required to be a leader on the field, Breazeale said he feels he has acquired the knowledge and leadership needed to succeed.

“I had the chance to see what skills I have and what skills I need to work on, and now I have a better idea of what it means to be a leader,” Breazeale said. “I feel like I’m definitely going to use the skills I learned at the conference to be a better leader.”

With volleyball trying to get into the Western Athletic Conference, and baseball’s upcoming mini world-series, Panova and Breazeale will use what they have learned from this conference in day-to-day life.

E-mail comments to act013@latech.edu.