A Life Changing Experience
July 13, 2016
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Kristine Miller remembers many quotes throughout the weekend she spent at the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Arizona earlier this year. But the line that kept circling in her mind came from one of the male student-athletes in the group when he said, ‘live life with an empty glass.’ And that’s what the rising senior of the Fairfield women’s basketball team did throughout her stay in what she would later describe as a “life changing” experience. Like the empty glass, she allowed herself to take in what people say.
“If you live life with your cup full, then you’ll never be willing to listen to others and grow as an individual,” Miller said. “It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I feel like I truly changed as a leader, a teammate, and a person because of this experience.”
“Kristine was bursting at the seams to tell me all about it when she returned,” Head Coach Joe Frager said. “We sat down together and reviewed all of her notes and experiences. It was a great opportunity and she took full advantage of it.”
As the name obviously suggests, the purpose of the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum is to talk about leadership. The 325 student-athletes across the country that were nominated and attended the event in Phoenix, Arizona in April learned various steps for being a leader. From what it takes to be a leader, what qualities a leader should have, and the different ways people lead, the weekend was filled with activities and speakers geared towards that word.
“I learned that there isn’t one way to lead, no textbook way to be a leader,” Miller said. “There are so many different qualities in a leader and no one is going to have every single quality. I realized that I can learn something from every single person I come across.”
To have the student-athletes learn about different ways to become a leader, the group listened to several speakers talking about their experiences, including motivational speaker Justin Patton and former Division I women’s basketball player LaChina Robinson, who now serves as a sports broadcaster for ESPN among other networks. Aside from their leadership skills on the field, the group had the opportunity to help the Phoenix community in several service projects. The different groups would create goody bags with school supplies for the families around Phoenix and also make jump ropes for the area’s youth.
These events caused personal reflection for Miller.
“One thing that we all had to do was face inward and make conclusions about not only those around us, but ourselves,” Miller said. “It was such an eye-opening feeling knowing that I have the ability to have such an impact on everyone around me. I feel like I was given the tools to harness my qualities of leadership in a way that will help make my team, my peers, and myself more successful.”
Those qualities and experiences will be vital for Miller, who will be one of three seniors for the Stags women’s basketball team this upcoming season. The rising senior, who has been one of the most vital pieces off the bench for the Stags through her first three seasons, is now ready to take the next step and become that senior leader.
“I have no doubt that this will make her a better leader this season,” Coach Frager said. “She referred to her time as ‘life altering.’”
“I learned that the way I lead is okay,” Miller said. “I have many things to work on, just as everyone else, but what I am doing now is good. I want to be able to continue to help those around me become the best version of themselves.”