Already reeling from the effects of COVID-19 as well as the recent, and not so recent, murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland and others have enraged Americans everywhere. Athletes at all levels, led by the visible protests of Colin Kaepernick, are now becoming deeply entrenched in leading the fight for justice and equality.

These quickly changing times are challenging those who work in college sports to ‘step up’ in ways never previously expected of them. There is no longer time or room to sit on the sidelines, ignoring, observing or critiquing from afar. That fact also translates to a huge opportunity to cultivate and advance the leadership development of our athletes. Doing so promises to help set a national example of how collaboration can help fix and heal our society. If you are fortunate enough to be working currently with athletes, your role has never been more important. Are you fully prepared to embrace this ‘now is the moment’ opportunity?

As student-athletes return to campuses amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the landscape of college athletics is changing at warp speed. The aforementioned nation-wide social justice movement, quickly advancing Name, Image and Likeness legislation, and the unavoidable department budget cuts and furloughs that are occurring translate to challenges that must be successfully addressed head-on. The questions are many.

• How will you respond to these events?
• What are your plans to communicate with and support your student-athletes and your staff through these uncertain times?
• How do you position yourself as the “Go-to” leader and advocate for the benefit of your student-athletes and your department and University?
• What do you think the future of student-athlete development should look like structurally and programmatically?
• What can you be doing now to plan for the many changes within sport that will impact your career?

Throughout my 30-year career in athlete development leadership roles at the NBA, in higher education athletics administration and in public schools, I have benefited from the most brilliant minds in sports. I have had the privilege of helping educate, develop and transition the most elite amateur, college, Olympic and professional athletes in the world. These experiences drive what is now my very active consulting career, almost focused solely on helping the professionals who help athletes. I am motivated like never before to help you to embrace this moment and establish yourself as a leader in your athletic department (or in any other facet of the athlete development industry). Leading also requires that you prepare your athletes to assume leadership positions in your organization and in society as a whole. That is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.
To be an effective and influential leader in athlete development, you must be able to think and act proactively. In subsequent blogs, expect to discover four critical strategies designed to:

• Demonstrate your value
• Gain the respect and cooperation of coaches
• Create interdepartmental collaboration
• Engage “New Age” student-athletes in innovative ways

If you are ready to grow your ability to help athletes help themselves and the world, I invite you to stay connected. Our journey together promises to reap benefits for you, your athletes and the world they will enter.

At Hilliard Solutions, our proprietary 360 framework for athlete development helps you help your student-athletes be successful in their educational, sports, career and life pursuits. The framework integrates multidisciplinary perspectives that support both your personal development and that of your student-athletes. Through consultation, career, and curriculum services, we help you build and implement a success plan that addresses the challenges that all student-athlete development professionals face today. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you and your organization create a game plan for success.