Monday, September 25th marked the first event of the year for the First Year Initiative Program (FYI). 150+ first-year student-athletes joined LEADS and a panel of Amherst Head Coaches and Captains in Stirn Auditorium. The first event of the year, also known as Welcome Night, for first-years is meant to get the group together and introduce them to the program as well as the Amherst Community as a whole.
The evening began with Athletic Director Don Faulstick welcoming the group to Amherst LEADS and briefly chatted about the excitement surrounding this group of student-athletes and the impact they will certainly make on campus. Following Faulstick, Assistant Athletic Director Gregg DiNardo who was instrumental in the formation of LEADS spoke to the group. He spoke about the privilege of being a student-athlete at Amherst and the high expectations that come with being a representative for the college. Finally, DiNardo spoke to the importance of learning and experiencing all that you can and making sure that everything done is done to the best of your abilities and with the utmost respect of others. Coach Serpone, Director of Amherst LEADS and head men’s soccer coach then introduced to the first-years a brief history of the program and spoke to the immense opportunities that LEADS presents those who participate in it. He shared the value and uniqueness that LEADS brings to the students and emphasized the importance of taking advantage of what is being offered as well as expectations during the first year in LEADS and beyond.
Next, we took some time for a Q&A session with our distinguished panel; Softball Coach Jessica Johnson, Men’s Basketball Coach David Hixon and Captains Ian Kadish ’18 (m. lacrosse) and Emma Griese ’18 (w. ice hockey). Each and every panel member provided thoughtful and beneficial responses to each question some of which included; sharing specific examples of a first-year who emerged as a leader. Activities that enhance the college experience outside of Amherst Athletics, what advice you would give incoming first-years, speaking about an exceptional leader that they had coached or played with, important lessons learned from working with the student-athletes, etc. Each coach and captain brought in different perspectives and advice for the first-years that have been obtained from years of playing and coaching at the collegiate level, and it is clear that our panelist have continued to learn throughout their journey and are fully invested in passing on what they have learned to their teammates and players.
We opened up the floor to questions from the first-years and a handful of heartfelt questions were asked, and answered meaningfully by the panel.
To hear from veteran players and coaches has always been a great way to acclimate the first-years and get them excited for the next four years at Amherst College, in athletics and participating for LEADS. We are fortunate to have an athletics program full of such a caring and dedicated staff as well as students who passionate about what they are doing and continuously give it their all.
What’s Next for LEADS? The Futures have their second event of the year on Thursday, October 12th