Buffalo, NY – Current and former student-athletes from D'Youville recently participated in the D'You Led program - put on by Leadership Buffalo - that helped several D'Youville student-athletes, current and former, make the most of their leadership abilities.
Freshman Dominique Riforgiato of the women's soccer and women's lacrosse teams and Ashley Long, a second year graduate student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program and former women's soccer and women's basketball player were two of the six current and former student-athletes to partake in the program. Riforgiato is in her first year of the Exercise and Sports Studies to Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.
Coming from someone who recently began their collegiate career, the leadership programmed allowed Dom to not only learn about how she operates as a leader, but how being a leader is not necessarily what you may think. She discussed how in athletics, the idea of being the biggest, fastest, strongest, smartest, and most gifted individual is typically perceived as a leader. However, Dom recognizes that all of these characteristics are often difficult to find in one individual and how being the best may not be the most suitable to lead.
"It is important as a leader, especially in sports, to see their strengths and their weaknesses along with the strengths and weaknesses of those around them," said Riforgiato. "You don't lead so you can take recognition; you lead so you can give guidance. You have to understand that you have weaknesses so, in order to be the best you have to find/create a team with who you're given by putting those people where they are also strongest."
A majority of the program for Dom was learning about how to be a leader and how she can apply it to her future. For Ashley, the program allowed her to enhance of the qualities she has already inherited from being a student-athlete at D'Youville and applying them right now.
Students from the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs worked together to better the community of Buffalo and educate individuals on common complaints of low back pain – with Ashley playing a large part in organizing it. The group provided tips on posture, stretches, and exercises that were safe and could reduce the complaints of low back pain. Ashley credits her time as a player on the women's soccer and what she learned from the program in helping organize the event for back improvement.
"I could not have organized this event with my peers without the leadership and compromise skills that I learned from being a part of the D'Youville women's soccer team for four years," said Long. "These skills have made me successful in my graduate program and I will carry them with me throughout my career, which will no doubt make me a successful Physical Therapist."
As Ashley moves forward in her career as a Physical Therapist, Dom has already looked toward her future after her playing career is over. From the leadership program she has learned how to lead not only as member of a team, but as a head coach and leading an entire team.
"I know now it will be important to not put my players in positions they think they belong but, where they are strongest," she said. "I won't critique them on their weaknesses but, build upon their strengths. It keeps people positive and happy. Plus if everyone is in a position they are just alright at, how can you ever be your best? It makes no sense, it simply doesn't add up."
However now as a player, Dom has learned what it takes to help a team play together. At her position on the field as a center back, she can see the entire field as she serves as the last line of defense in front of the goalie. Since she is able to see the entire field, Dom often has the advantage of seeing where players should be and knowing their positions. When a player ahead of her is out of position, she has the responsibility of stopping that attack. However, the mistake of a forward or midfielder can sometimes result in a goal at the end of the play. Instead of voicing her opinion on what a certain player did wrong, Dom has learned to hear out others to understand why they did what they did rather than going after them for what they didn't do.
"I've learned you have to be willing to hear everyone else opinions," Dom added. "Sometimes it's best to let everyone else go and then say what your thoughts are. This is right back to the idea of your work better as a team than an individual. Sure I might think I have the best solution but, I could be missing something."
Gathering all of the information is a key for being a leader not only on the field, but off of it as well. The most important thing Dom took away from the leadership training was to be as strong a leader as you can be, you need to listen to others and get to know them, formulate plans together and not as individuals. By yourself you may not be the smartest, but if you surround yourself with a diverse group of people you can become a genius.
"It's super important to not surround yourself with only like-minded people because you'll never see a new view point; team work is key," emphasized Dom. "Basically, the whole program applied to every team sport because you have to create a good well rounded happy team in order to be a good team."
For Ashley, working as part of a team has helped her succeed in her program. The lessons she learned as part of the D'Youville women's soccer team have helped her now, and have helped prepare her for the future.
"The lessons I learned from being a part of a team at D'Youville College has helped me in ways that no class ever could and I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to play for four years here."
Two other current student-athletes - CeDrice Howard (women's basketball) and Renato Quinones (baseball) – also participated in the leadership training. Along with Ashley, former student-athletes Christine Siebert (women's volleyball) and Devlynn Neu (men's cross country) took part in the training as well.
Pictures from the event can be found on D'Youville's Fickr page.