On Thursday, March 22nd, the Captains gathered in the Powerhouse for their final LEADS event of the year, and for most of them, their final LEADS event ever! This year marked the third Honors night. The event provided a chance for the captains to re-connect with each other since their last event, as a moment was taken to recognize their growth and success as leaders throughout their time at Amherst. (something about the point of honors night)
Norm Jones, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer on campus, was the first award-winner of the night, receiving the Community Partner Award. The Amherst Community Partner Award is presented to an individual on the Amherst College Campus who has displayed qualities that are admirable to faculty, students and staff. The community partner has been selected by LEADS to accept this award for providing constant support to the student body and athletics department. The recipient of this award perpetually exudes the mission of the college and is continuously seeking to have the best environment of mutual support, teamwork and partnership within the college and the Amherst community. Although Norm could not be present for the event, he graciously provided a video, in which he talked about the difficulty of achieving diversity in athletics at a school like Amherst, and the importance of pushing through these difficulties to be more inclusive.
After Norm’s acceptance video, the next award-winner, Judy Clagett McLennan, was introduced. Judy is the President, Co-Founder, and Chair of the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta (Portsmouth, RI), a program for disabled sailors, which she created in 2003 with her daughter. Prior to establishing this regatta to empower the disabled, Judy served as The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women under President George H. W. Bush. Judy is also involved in various charitable and civic boards. Judy received the Distinguished Leader Award, which is presented to an individual recognized by LEADS and the community who is consistently a leader in the many facets of their life. The recipient of the award has continuously provided support, guidance and a dedication to those they work with on a daily basis. The contributions that the distinguished leader has made to those with whom they work do not go unseen. The courage, passion and love for the work that they do has proved to make a tremendous impact on the community. The Distinguished Leader has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a positive impact to those they care about the most.
Judy showed the captains a video commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the Regatta and gave a general overview of the work that she and her team do. The mission of the Clagett is to become the leader in developing competitive sailing opportunities for sailors with disabilities by providing a venue and process that includes inspirational information and educational instruction that will assist the Sailors with disabilities to attain competitive intermediate, advanced and or elite status. Many in the room were moved by the empowering nature of her work. After the video, Judy encouraged the captains to reach for success, and treat all people with the same level of respect as they would like to be treated. She concluded by saying, “An athlete with a disability is an athlete first. Applaud them for their athleticism and their leadership qualities as you would any other athlete.”
Next, Cullen Murphy received the Excellence in Alumni Leadership Award. The Excellence in Alumni Leadership Award is presented to an Amherst Alum who exceled as a leader in their sport(s), academics and in the community. In addition, the alum has been recognized by LEADS as a standout in their chosen profession, displaying the necessary leadership skills to make it to the next level. The selected alum, during their time at Amherst, represented the institution in a positive and honorable manner, always setting a great example for those around them. The recognized alum continuously strives to make the Amherst College community proud. After accepting his award, Cullen recounted a story of his childhood, which hinged on the classic children’s book, Harold and the Purple Crayon. In the book, young Harold realizes that he can create anything that he wants in his world with the use of a special purple crayon. Cullen described how his father, a cartoon artist, used the book as a metaphor – with imagination, hard work, and perhaps some artful sketching skills, he taught his children that they can do anything. Cullen impressed upon the captains to use their Amherst education and experience as their own purple crayon; with the lessons that the captains have learned on and off the field, and with the connections that they have made throughout their time at Amherst, they have the foundations to achieve their dreams.
Finally, Amherst Women’s Lacrosse Coach Chris Paradis made her way to the podium to introduce Dakota Foster, who received the Distinguished Captain Award. The Distinguished Captain Award is presented by LEADS to a standout captain and soon-to-be graduate who has shown the utmost aptitude for leadership, development, and accountability among teammates, classmates, and coaches. This student has been an example on and off the field, has provided guidance to those in need, has been committed to the mission of Amherst Athletics, and has exhibited positivity, work-ethic, accountability, passion, and teamwork time and time again. The recipient of this award has grown into an exceptional young adult and has the ability to make an incredible difference.
Chris listed Dakota’s numerous accolades that proved her deserving of the award – from her work with the larger community as a Resident Counselor to her efforts with her teammates fostering an incredible dynamic, Dakota does it all, and all with others in mind before herself. Upon receiving the award, Dakota expressed gratitude to all of her coaches, former teammates, and current teammates, for teaching her how to lead with passion and composure. She also expressed her appreciation for the LEADS program.