Leading The Way
No, spring break did not come early when two Susquehanna student-athletes made a trip to Florida last October. Rather, Marcus Cheatham ’13, of the men’s lacrosse team, and softball player Lisa Finizio ’12 were two of nearly 450 student-athletes from across the country who convened in Orlando for the annual NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum.
Cheatham and Finizio were handpicked by head women’s soccer and softball coach Kathy Kroupa, who also heads the CHAMPS/Life Skills program at Susquehanna. Accompanying them was head women’s lacrosse coach Laura Moan, who also participated in the forum with fellow coaches and various administrators from across the country.
Cheatham and Finizio were able to ignore the distractions of 85-degree weather and nearby Disney World to become immersed in the conference, which began before they ever set foot in Orlando.
Prior to the forum, every student-athlete, coach and administrator completed a DiSC assessment test to determine what type of leader they are. There were four leadership categories: D (dominance), I (influence), S (steadiness) and C (conscientiousness), and the results of the assessment test were right on target.
Finizio’s results indicated that she had strong traits from all four categories, while Cheatham’s reflected strong D and I tendencies.
“It was absolutely spot-on,” Finizio says. “I am pretty even and I definitely see myself in each of the categories. But some people were really strong Ds or Cs, and it was interesting to see that in black and white.”
Cheatham and Moan were classified as high Ds, which came as a shock to neither of them.
“After taking the test, it became really easy to identify which letter every person was,” Cheatham says. “People would say to me right away, ‘you’ve got to be a strong D.’”
While labeling people might seem contradictory to what a team is all about—bringing everyone together—Finizio, Cheatham and Moan learned that in reality, identifying the different personalities on a team is the first step to uniting it.
“Being a dominant and influential personality, I definitely do like bringing people together for a common goal,” Cheatham says. “But I feel like every player has different strengths and any type of personality can be a leader.”
Moan echoed similar thoughts. “I am most definitely a high D, and this was great for everyone to understand that their teammates, peers, players all have different personalities and that one is not better or more important,” she says. “If you had a team of all Ds, it’d be a disaster. Everyone brings different strengths to the table, and you learn to appreciate those differences.”
Now it’s up to Finizio, Cheatham and Moan to use what they learned in a way that benefits their teammates.
“We learned how to brand ourselves— how to represent yourself, what your actions say to others, how you react in social situations,” Moan explains. “I know more about my personality now, and I know the different types of people there are, so now I can pick them out and work with them better.”
They were able to put their knowledge to use right away. Conference attendees were divided into groups and spent the weekend working together in group activities to learn exactly how to best work with personalities from every end of the leadership spectrum.
So was a late-October trip to Florida that didn’t entail time at the beach or Disney World worth it?
“Absolutely,” Cheatham says, “and I know I’ll act differently going forward.”
Contributing writers to the Scoreboard section are Katie Meier, director of athletics communications, and Justin Lutes, assistant director of athletics communications.