Gauge Then Engage: Area Athletes Learn Leadership Skills

By Auburn Larson, Current Staff

As a new North Shore Conference has been formed, so have new leaders.

Ten students from each school in the North Shore Conference attended a leadership conference led by Craig Hillier Nov. 1 at the Chandelier Ballroom in Hartford to learn about the power of quality leadership. The West Bend High Schools joined the conference when it was realigned for the 2017-18 school year.

Hillier is an extremely accomplished motivational speaker for student athletes. He has spoken in front of more than 2 million teenagers during his career. His enthusiasm for producing great leaders on and off the field engaged the students in a way that most adults cannot. In addition to inspiring stories and helpful strategies, he gave each student his book, “High School Sports Leader,” which is beneficial in assisting team leaders and captains to having a season of significance.

Throughout the day athletes were encouraged to intermix with athletes from other schools.

“It was sort of weird to see everyone as normal people and not as competitors,” East junior Abby Wimmer said. “It was a really cool opportunity to get to interact with so many talented athletes in one place.”

People who were considered fierce competitors were now trying to figure out how to unravel themselves from two conjoined pieces of string, and chasing each other around in intense games of straight-legged tag. Behind all of these games, though, were important lessons that these athletes will be able to take back to their teams.

While playing tag, they could see their goal, which was their partner, but were constantly running into people. Hillier explained that these people were their obstacles, and that no matter how many times you get hit you must keep working toward your goal.

“It was sort of weird to see everyone as normal people and not as competitors.”
– Abby Wimmer, East junior

“I think that by applying some of the ideas I learned at the conference I can definitely help my team in the future,” West junior Logan Rupnow said.

Hillier reminded the athletes constantly that there was more than one way to solve a problem and that they could not fix the problem by using the same kind of thinking that created them.

“Craig made us think outside the box which gave me many new ideas on how to be a better leader,” East junior Payge Hochstaetter said.

After a tasty pasta lunch, the athletes were put into groups of four to learn about other important concepts of being a leader. Hillier often used the phrase, “Team leaders are not always team captains and team captains are not always team captains.” He also reminded the athletes that as leaders they must remember that all eyes are on them and that they must always be a notch and a half above everyone else’s energy.

“A key concept to this conference was to gauge then engage,” Rupnow said. “I think using this phrase will improve my interactions with teammates and help me to become a better leader.”

Students found the conference extremely beneficial and hope that it will be offered to future athletes.

“I think they should provide this leadership conference to future athletes because it will help teams to become closer and potentially more successful,” Wimmer said.

(Top image: East junior Auburn Larson, right, and a Homestead athlete work together to unknot themselves from two pieces of string. Photo courtesy of Denny Ziegler.)

Athletes observe as presenter Craig Hillier competes in a game of straws with a Slinger student. Photo courtesy of Dennis Ziegler.

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