The Leadership and Empowerment through Athletics Principles (LEAP) Initiative leverages the reach and visibility of Athletics at Bowdoin College to positively influence campus culture, highlighting the values of teamwork, health and wellness, and personal growth through healthy competition. Embracing the invitation the Offer of the College provides for students’ learning and development, this initiative equips all members of Bowdoin’s Athletic community – coaches, students, and staff - to develop as “leaders in all walks of life” and to “cooperate with others for common ends” in a manner that benefits the entire campus.
History of the Program:
Beginning in the Fall of 2015 with a generous gift from a Bowdoin family, the College laid the groundwork for the LEAP Initiative as a way in which to move the Bowdoin student-athlete experience from excellent to exceptional. Drawing upon the perspectives and expertise of both internal and external sources, over the course of the 2015-16 Academic Year, the Athletic Department worked with a committee of College representatives to conduct a needs assessment; develop and implement both pilot and long-term related programming; and to review and implement corresponding program evaluation. In the process, during a year of events that mark the College’s own transition, it became evident that the LEAP Initiative had potential for reach well beyond Athletics in providing a mechanism by which the Department could serve as an important anchor and partner for campus-wide education regarding current issues affecting the entire student body. Through this convergence of events and equipped with the financial resources necessary to do so the Bowdoin Athletics Department is in a unique position not only to better develop our education of the whole-student-athlete, but also to be a leader in shaping campus culture around related issues for the benefit of the College more broadly.
- The Coach Development Program provides our coaches the opportunity to grow in the ‘art of coaching’ while gaining important technical training, emphasizing the value of the student-coach relationship and the role of athletics in the campus community.
- Our Campus-wide Education and Professional Development Program provides meaningful and enriching campus programming and professional development opportunities for Student Affairs staff, with Athletics serving as a clear and visible leader influencing relevant issues of the day.
- Health and Wellness Initiatives highlight links between Athletics and Bowdoin’s Counseling Center and student wellness programs, fostering non-stigma attitudes towards mental health and wellness and offer the benefits of a sports psychology consulting relationship with X Factor Performance.
Guest Speakers and Consultants:
Dr. Tiff Jones (ongoing Sports Psychology Consulting)
Dr. Tiffany Jones is the Owner and President of X Factor Performance Consulting Group. Dr. Jones is a graduate of Hobart & William Smith Colleges and earned a MS and PhD in Sports Psychology from Springfield College. Tiff has consulted with athletic programs across Division I, II and III and began working with the Bowdoin athletic department in the spring of 2016. Tiff visits campus five times during the academic year for extended periods of time, which are spent meeting with coaches, entire teams (practices and team meetings), captains / team leaders and individual players on issues such as dealing with adversity, maintaining self-confidence, competing consistently, and setting and achieving goals, both within and outside of the athletic arena.
Joe Ehrmann played professional football for 13 years and was the first recipient of the National Football League’s Ed Block Courage Award. Joe is the author of Inside Out Coaching and is a nationally recognized speaker on issues related to character development and coaching. Joe’s approach is based upon three key questions for coaches – “Why do I coach”, “Why do I coach the way I do” and “How does it feel to be coached by me”. Joe provided a workshop for the Bowdoin coaching staff and provided a lecture for the Bowdoin community in September 2015.
In 2006, Sue Enquist concluded her storied 27-year career as head coach of the UCLA Bruins Softball program with a 887-175-1 (.835) record, making her the winningest softball coach among all active coaches. Sue “articulate(s) my philosophy of life, leadership, and competition in three words: Prepare. Love. Honor. Anything worthy of your passion should be worthy of this approach, whether it’s achieving success in business, growing your service organization, or leading your athletic team to victory”. In April 2016 Sue conducted a workshop for members of the Bowdoin coaching staff and gave a talk entitled “Competitive Character Blueprints: Building sustainable & relevant leadership systems” to the Bowdoin community.
Tim Wise is an anti-racism activist and writer who visited campus in the spring of 2016. Tim provided a workshop regarding contemporary issues of race in America to members of the Division of Student Affairs, participated in a luncheon dialogue regarding race in athletics and our campus community with our athletic department coaching staff and a presented a talk on racism in the post-Obama era to our entire campus community.
Maren Rojas is the Director of Sport at Boston, MA based Edgework Consulting. With over 20 years of coaching experience, including a highly successful tenure as the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Bowdoin, and several years of higher education consulting experience, Maren was uniquely qualified to provide a workshop for the Bowdoin coaching staff in the fall of 2016 which was focused on working with student-athletes to develop confidence while dealing with adversity. In addition, Maren oversaw an afternoon Captain/Team Leader leadership development activity on the Pickard Fields.
Brett Ledbetter specialized in team cohesion and character development with high performers. Brett is a co-creator of a conference which is focused on engaging in conversations with championship coaches on answering the question of What Drives Winning. The conference has evolved to become a movement that transcends sports and has created a community of coaches who want to increase awareness of drivers of success beyond the X’s and O’s. In the fall of 2016 Brett provided a workshop for members of the Athletic Department coaching staff which examined factors which influence character development within the context of collegiate athletics and how coaches can work with student-athletes to position themselves for success as an athlete and member of the broader community. In addition, Brett provided an evening talk for our entire campus community which focused on similar themes related to positive character development.
Chamique Holdsclaw, one of the most decorated collegiate athletes of all-time, travels across the country to share her experience of living with mental illness. Chamique’s journey is chronicled in the 2015 documentary Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw (directed by Rick Goldsmith) and her current work is centered on demystifying mental wellness issues and encouraging open dialogue among peers and support networks. Holdsclaw was a six-time WNBA All Star, an Olympic Gold medalist and was a two-time AP Player of the Year at the University of Tennessee. During a visit to Bowdoin in the spring of 2017, Holdsclaw conducted a mental wellness workshop with our coaching staff, met with a group of students from across the campus community to discuss their mental wellness journey, attended a women’s basketball practice, and held an evening talk and viewing of Mind/Game with our local and campus community.