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Student-Athletes Participate in Xcel Leadership Retreat

AD Brad Bates discusses leadership qualities with the student-athletes.

AD Brad Bates discusses leadership qualities with the student-athletes.

Dec. 16, 2013

Written by Kristen Scott

On December 6, Boston College student-athletes left the campus confines in Chestnut Hill and headed to Grotonwood, Mass. They weren't traveling to compete, however. Instead, they participated in a weekend of reflection and learning. Coaches from every sport elected members from their teams to take part in the Xcel Retreat.

The Xcel Retreat provides BC student-athletes an opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills and reflect on what it takes to build a successful team. Over the course of the weekend, the student-athletes assessed their own leadership values, engaged in group activities, talked with a panel of former BC athletes, and heard from Director of Athlteics Brad Bates.

Cali Ceglarski, a senior captain for the women's lacrosse team, talked about the perspective she was able to gain from interacting with athletes from different teams at BC.

"We did case studies in groups and it was really interesting to hear how the other athletes would go about solving a problem within their team completely different than I would. It was cool to get the input and strategies that other student-athletes use in their teams. It helped me to see that I could use my peers as a resource to better my own leadership skills," Ceglarski said.

In addition to learning from her peers, Ceglarski valued the opportunity to reflect on her last season as a BC student-athlete.

"The overarching theme for me was realizing that my time is limited--maybe I only have five months left--but there's still so much I can do with that time," said Ceglarski.

What resonated the most with Eric Stevens, a senior captain on the baseball team, were the messages he heard from the BC alumni during the panel.

"One thing that stuck out to me was the way that Matt Greene (BC '08, ice hockey) led. One season, a lot of their talented players from the year before had left, so a big part of their success was the team culture that the seniors and captains had to bring so the team would come together and fill in the spots that were missing," Stevens said.

Stevens, along with fellow captains John Hennessy and Tom Bourdon, plans to foster a philosophy of unity across classes to create a tight-knit team this year.

"We're trying to set up a mentoring program where a senior is paired up with a freshman to keep track of how they're doing and keep tabs on them. It's something that we want to do to make the team more united," Stevens said.

AshLeigh Sebia, a sophomore forward on the field hockey team, talked about reflecting on her personal outlook on what makes a great leader on and off the field.

"My core values are passion, personal growth and family. Personally, I think these are essential to a successful team. One of the things that is so special about BC field hockey is that we really are like a family. As a program we really do look at each other as family," said Sebia.

Like Sebia, Stevens saw the value in taking time for individual reflection during the Xcel Retreat.

"It was good because you have to make sure everything is in line with yourself before you set out to lead others," said Stevens.

At the end of the retreat, Bates spoke to the student-athletes about team roles. Sebia identified with Bates' message that each role is important.

"One of the things I told myself I would bring back and share with everyone is that Brad Bates talked about knowing your role within a team. Everyone plays a different role and no particular role is more or less valuable than the others. Everyone is an integral part of the team. Each person brings something really special to the team. Our motto this past year was `25 Strong' and I think that's why it really stuck with me," Sebia said.

Off-season training includes more than just the weight room for BC's student-athletes and Boston College's mission of developing the whole person certainly crosses over to its athletic programs. The Xcel Retreat is one of the ways the student-athletes develop leadership and mentoring skills that can be useful on and off the field.