Athletes smile upon lessons learned at RISE program

Recently, student-athletes in RISE joined together to discuss DiSC assesment, their personal strengths and how they can work to empower teammates on and off the field. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

On Feb. 26 the Vassar RISE program hosted its first leadership academy workshop for freshmen and sophomores, following RISE’s inaugural event in October. The RISE Program’s main focus is to enhance Vassar student-athlete’s leadership skills in both athletics and post-graduate life. RISE stands for responsibility, integrity, sportsmanship and excellence.

Explaining her reasoning behind participating in the workshop, sophomore track and field runner Sophie Sharp stated, “My coach suggested that all sophomores and freshmen should sign up. I’m interested in eventually being part of the leadership of my team and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn some new techniques to be a better leader. Also after looking up the DISC assessment I thought it would be interesting to have the opportunity to see my results.”

90 student-athletes participated in two sections of the tier one training held in the Villard Room. Prior to the event, all accepted student-athletes were required to complete a DiSC assessment. The DiSC assessment involved a online quiz which featured 40 sets of four words. The students chose the adjective that best described them on the field and the adjective that was least like them. The student were then later presented with their results at the workshop.

When the DiSC assessment packets were distributed, student-athletes were given a few minutes to read and reflect on their personalized results. The assessment helps participants understand their individual behavioral styles and preferences, develop a common language when addressing these topics and learn to better relate to others.

The DiSC assessment categorizes people in four different ways, each corresponding to the letters D, I, S, C. Each student athlete was provided with a customized packet built off of their responses to the original assessment. These packets included a general overview of the group that a student-athlete was placed in as well as each individuals strengths and weaknesses, and the situations and ways in which they work best. Athletes were also told how to work with people in other groups based on their own category.

People who have both outgoing and task-oriented traits often exhibit dominant and direct behavior. They tend to focus on results, problem-solving and the bottom-line. This “Dominant” (“D”) group thinks creatively and easily makes decisions.

People who fell into the “I” category have both outgoing and people-oriented traits, leading to their “Inspirer” label. They usually focus on interacting with people, having fun and/or creating excitement. Inspirers work best in groups and they tend to work to avoid conflict. Meanwhile, “S” stands for steady and stable. Members of this group are often generous and very good listeners, with their strengths including patience and dependability.

The “C” people are accurate and detail-oriented. Those in this “Conscientious” group tend to be good problem solvers and set high standards for themselves and others. “I was placed in the C group,” commented Sharp, “I recognized a lot of my own behaviors and thoughts in the write-up. It’s always good to see yourself from an outside perspective even if you don’t identify with every aspect of the description.”

Freshman women’s basketball player Isa Peczuh was also labeled as “Conscientious” while freshman women’s soccer player Nika Schnitzer identified as an “Inspirer”. Both Schnitzer and Peczuh agreed with Sharp stating that many aspects of their packets were in line with their strengths and weaknesses.

Along with being placed into one of four general categories, the packet provided each student with their own specialized pattern. The pattern recognized not only which category the athlete ranked highest in, but also where they fell in other categories. Based off of these individualized patterns, the packet provided even more insight into how each individual works with others, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Student-athletes were divided by category into four different groups, where they were given the opportunity to collaborate with members of the same DiSC classification. In small groups, athletes worked together to highlight three weaknesses, three strengths and three things that are typically misunderstood about them on or off of the field. Enjoying this activity the most, Schnitzer shared, “I think the best part of this event was being able to learn about my personality type and see which group I fit in with. It was interesting working with people that had a very similar personality type as me. I found that my group worked really well together and were able to agree quickly about what to write on the poster.”

While the student-athletes differed in their identifying categories, one subset of athletes also differed in another way: previous experience with the DiSC assessment. Peczuh explained that she had opportunity to participate in the DiSC assessment twice, once with the whole women’s basketball team in October, and again with Vassar RISE.

Sharp recognizes the importance of completing the followup DiSC assessment with one’s personal team. Sharp stated, “It would be cool to have sessions with individual teams. I know the basketball teams did sessions with their whole teams and I think that makes the information more effective. I think these events would work best if everyone was on the same page and could use what we learned.” Many athletes seconded Sharp’s sentiments and hope for such workshops to occur among their individual teams.

Overall, the RISE event had incredibly positive feedback. Sophomore men’s lacrosse player Nat Lyman emphasized, “Learning to relate to people in different capacities can be incredibly useful whether on the field, in the classroom or in a place of work. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about both myself as an athlete and a potential leader. I believe even the preliminary stages of the RISE event helped me better understand how to be the best leader I can be.”

Schnitzer added, “I think the RISE events are very beneficial. They allow everyone to find their own way to be a leader, and show students their strengths and weaknesses in regards to this. These events will create a better and stronger team dynamic which will lead to great results in our respective sports seasons.”

Athletes and coaches alike look forward to more RISE events and the long-lasting benefits it brings to Vassar student-athletes.

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