Florida Tech Softball’s Cheyenne Nelson Participates in the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech News Bureau // December 22, 2021
Nelson one of two representatives from Sunshine State Conference
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Cheyenne Nelson of the Florida Tech softball team and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was recently selected to participate in the annual NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum on Nov. 19-21.
Nelson, along with two other representatives from the Sunshine State Conference, Eckerd baseball player Tyler Venditti and Embry-Riddle men’s tennis player Fernando Alonso, attended the four-day leadership event in Houston.
There they joined student-athletes from all three NCAA divisions, representing every sport.
“When I learned about SALF, I was encouraged by my coach Val Silvestrini to apply,” said Nelson. “I submitted a short personal statement and letter of recommendation. I was honored to be of the three student-athletes from the SSC chosen to go this year.”
The purpose of SALF is to provide student-athletes and attending athletic administrators with enhanced leadership capabilities that allow them to thrive personally, professionally, and even athletically.
When participants arrive, they were assigned to a “color team” with about 30 other attendees and two facilitators, who were either an administrator from a college or university or members of the NCAA national staff.
Each day was filled with sessions and color team workshops from 8:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. The color team sessions allowed participants to work in an open environment and engage in discussions regarding leadership and its many components.
“Most of our time was spent breaking out into smaller color teams, I was a part of the Pink Team,” said Nelson. “Within the team, we defined our personal leadership styles and philosophies.
In our first color team session, we talked about being vulnerable as a group which helped us grow close in a short amount of time.
“I think I learned the most about myself during the conference! We did exercises to find our core values as well as our leadership strengths, which will help us lead our teams in a more effective way. We also learned about the importance of a growth mindset, and that our mistakes can help us grow as a leader.”
In addition to the impactful color team sessions, participants were able to learn about the inner workings of the NCAA, hear from keynote speakers and take part in a community service project.
A keynote speaker that Nelson enjoyed the most was USA Softball Silver Medalist, Haylie McCleney, whose session included lessons on servant leadership, leadership by support, culture, and how to find joy in teammates’ successes.
“I really enjoyed the session with Haylie McCleney,” Nelson stated. “I grew up watching McCleney play softball for the University of Alabama, so it was great to hear from her and I learned a lot!”
Attendees also participated in the “Jared Box Project,” which are boxes filled with small gifts, toys, games, crayons, coloring books, and other fun activities given to young patients in emergency rooms, hospital rooms, surgical centers, and clinics.
The four days had a tremendous impact on Nelson and she looks forward to sharing what she learned over her four days and make a difference at Florida Tech.
“I would love to help empower leaders in our athletic department as I was empowered at SALF,” Nelson said. “I want to work with others in SAAC to bring some of the things I learned to our teams at Florida Tech.”
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