Diversify & Adapt
A few months ago I was asked to speak on diversity at the CSCCa National Conference in Fort Worth Texas. As you may know, I served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Access and Leadership in the office of Inclusion Diversity and Equity at the University of Missouri. I served in this role for a year and a half between strength coaching roles.
I learned a lot from events in 2015, specifically at the University of Missouri, that helped me to be a better person, coach, administrator, etc. And, now after the year we had in 2020, I was ready to move on with life and put our struggles in society behind me.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend, Coach Bill Gillespie at Sorinex’s Winter Strong event did I get excited about the opportunity to present on a topic that consumed a lot of time and energy from many of us. Bill affirmed to me that I should present on the topic and I was the right person to do so.
I shared with Bill my experience with my strength and conditioning Coaches in college and how instrumental they were in my development not only as an athlete but as a man. That’s when Coach Gillespie inspired the framework I would use to develop my presentation.
Instead of talking about diversity coming from the lens and narrative that’s most common, I would speak from my experiences using the profession I have loved for so long. As strength and conditioning coaches and athletic performance coaches, we have experiences every day with the most diverse population on a college campus – our athletes.
As leaders in the Athletic Department, it’s our responsibility to treat everyone with the utmost respect. It’s our job to help develop our staff members by discovering their strengths and finding their niche. We’re all not the same.
What I am talking about is taking diversity into action and diversifying. I realize this could alienate some who prefer to only talk about diversity using the prevalent narrative mostly being discussed. But my experience teaches me there is DIVERSITY in diversity. By definition, everyone should be able to talk about diversity and how they can make the world a better place from their own lived experiences. I was once told that my experiences in sport were not an asset while I was working in the office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. I reject that thought process.
Being a “good” leader requires us to care about others and help guide them. Coaches and sports taught many of us how to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. We must continue to diversify our experiences and adapt to the change in the environment around us. I challenge everyone who works closely with student athletes everyday to extend yourself to the rest of your athletic department, school, campus, and community to lead. We develop leaders and leadership every day. Our society needs people with this experience and skill set to step up and help us to be better. Stay Strong my friends!