2015 Leadership Retreats: Two Weekends of Student-Athlete Leadership Training


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Chapter leaders from 10 schools took part in our Chicago, IL leadership retreat

One of the key components for the college football student-athletes who choose to be members of the Uplifting Athletes Chapter leadership team is hands-on training.

Over the past five years, the Uplifting Athletes staff hosted as many of these student-athletes as possible in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the annual Leadership Retreat. The value of this in-person education and training with the Uplifting Athletes staff has proven to be an invaluable commodity for all parties involved.

With 25 Chapters nationwide, choosing a single weekend to train and educate the chapter leaders was becoming a difficult proposition. In order to expose as many of the student-athletes to our Leadership Retreat as possible, Uplifting Athletes held two leadership events during the month of May.

The first retreat took place in Harrisburg with chapter leaders from four schools in attendance. On the final weekend in May, 16 chapter leaders from 10 university campuses traveled to suburban Chicago for three days of Uplifting Athletes Chapter leadership training.

“The retreat greatly improved my knowledge on what it takes to run a successful chapter. I was able to make some new connections and learn how to properly start, run, and market a Lift for Life event,” NC State Chapter leader and tight end Cole Cook said. “I feel I have the ability and confidence to now improve the NC State chapter and spread our message to more people. Before I came, I was unsure of what all I would be responsible for.”

Over the two weekend retreats, sessions and workshops held included a brief history of Uplifting Athletes, leadership and project management, event planning, marketing, engaging your teammates and how to communicate and tell your rare disease story.

Former Northwestern Chapter leader Jacob Schmidt, who is now the Director of Player Development at Northwestern, had a unique perspective on his Uplifting Athletes experience in relation to his current position in helping enhance the student-athlete experience.


The classroom instruction is only a small part of what makes the leadership retreat such a valuable learning tool. College football players who step forward and assume leadership positions in their respective chapters find out they have some common bonds beyond football.

Now, don’t be mistaken. There’s plenty of football conversation in the room when you get nearly 20 current college football student-athletes in the same room. But through the process of learning they are all like minded individuals all trying to accomplish the same goal, there is some inherent friendships and bonds formed that prove invaluable on many levels.

“The leadership retreat was both fun and informative. I did not know much about running a chapter coming into the retreat but I feel that I can now effectively lead our chapter after the retreat,” Maryland redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Joe Marchese said. “I think the biggest takeaway for me was the chance to talk to other leaders and learn how they run their chapters.”

This was the first year Uplifting Athletes ran two leadership retreats. The addition of a retreat in the Midwest opened up doors that otherwise might have been closed and combined the pair of weekends equipped 23 current college football student-athletes from 13 different schools to charge forward and become better chapter leaders.

“I think the two leadership retreats has become necessary because as we’ve grown our network its impossible to coordinate the athletic and academic schedules for that many schools,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley said. “With two options, it gives more of the student-athletes chapter leaders the option to grow and learn through the training and experience they get from attending.”

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