Hard work pays off for sophomores

By Ryan Ostry

DeKALB — Faculty Athletics Representative Matt Streb and Athletic Director Sean T. Frazier announced nine student-athletes to the fourth group of the Leadership Enhancement and Development program.

The program was introduced in 2013 and is limited to student-athletes who are currently sophomores that exhibit an ability to perform at high levels in the classroom and the potential to hold leadership positions in future endeavors.

Streb and Frazier made the announcement Feb. 9 that these sophomore athletes were named to the program: women’s golfers Kelly Anderson and Brielle Ward, baseball pitcher William Anderson, softball infielder Alex Frenz, cross-country runner Ericka Hibser, men’s golfer Salvador Rocha, women’s basketball guard Mikayla Voigt, men’s soccer midfielder Max Voss and volleyball middle blocker Meg Wolowicz.

As LEaD Huskies, student-athletes will begin to develop their own personal leadership models. They also receive career mentoring to prepare them for success after graduation.

As well as developing their leadership qualities, LEaD Huskie students also receive guidance for their careers after they receive their respective college degrees.

“I think it’s a program [that] a lot of our coaches use in recruiting, [and] I’m excited that more of our student-athletes are aware of the program,” Streb said. “The idea is to take the athletes early in their career and work with them to develop leadership skills and develop them for graduation.”

After their freshman year in school, head coaches were able to recommend their respective student-athletes for this program based on what they demonstrated with their leadership abilities in their respective sports.

Candidates must meet the following criteria: a minimum GPA of 3.5 and must be in the running for a notable accolade, including an all-conference or All-American honor.

The current LEaD class of 2016-17 has posted an average GPA of 3.8 and has nine student-athletes from eight different sports. One student-athlete who benefitted from the LEaD program is Mary Grace Kelly, senior volleyball outside hitter.

“I definitely think the LEaD program has motivated me in the classroom, [and] I just want to uphold the standard,” Kelly said.

Richard Hall, men’s soccer senior defender, who is a former member of LEaD, has seen his leadership qualities grow from this program and calls it a special opportunity for student-athletes.

“I’m extremely honored to be [in the program], and I just love what it represents,” Hall said. “I’m absolutely a better leader than I was in the past.”

Streb called this group of student-athletes a special one, saying that their success in the classroom and in their respective sports will make them excel further as members of this program.

“I’m looking forward to watching this year’s class develop even further as students, leaders and athletes,” Streb said. “They all have the ability to leave a lasting legacy on NIU Athletics.”