On Tuesday, October 30th, the Amherst LEADS Captains gathered for their second event of the fall semester. The student-athletes spent the evening connecting over mutual experiences as leaders on their team. Before engaging in this dialogue, the Captains had the opportunity to speak with five-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Missy Franklin, via Skype!
Missy Franklin credits her mom to her start in the sport of swimming. Being concerned about water safety for her daughter, Missy’s mom put her in swimming lessons at the age of two. She was a standout swimmer from an early age competing in the Olympic Trials at age 13 and breaking various high school records. Upon graduation from high school, Missy swam two seasons with the University of California before turning professional after her sophomore year. During her professional career, Missy attended the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, winning five gold medals, and breaking multiple world-records. In addition to swimming, Missy enjoys reading, dancing, baking, volunteering, and journaling. She serves as an ambassador for the Laureus Foundation to promote social change. Currently, Missy lives in Athens, Georgia, where she is pursuing a degree in religious studies at the University of Georgia.
To begin the night Victoria Rocco, of the women’s cross-country team, introduced Missy Franklin to the group. Missy joined the Captains via Skype after her evening practice swimming for the University of Georgia. To say that Missy was delightful is an understatement! With her positive attitude, charisma, and genuinely happy presence, Missy shared a variety of different viewpoints with the Captains. She began by sharing the story of her start in the sport; her experiences swimming in high school, college, and professionally; and what the experience was like at the Olympic Games. Missy spoke to the group about her deep dive into depression and the time she took to gain clarity again. She admits that she has never been a captain, but that doesn’t deter her from being a leader on her teams. “Leadership is unique to each person,” Missy stated. She emphasized being aware of your strongest assets and capitalizing on those to help yourself and your teammates.
Following the interview with Missy Franklin, Coach Jonathan Thompson, of the men’s lacrosse team, led the student-athletes through a two-part activity called Sharing Experiences. In the first portion of the activity, the Captains were asked to share one thing they and their co-captains have implemented (or plan to implement) this year to help improve their team. The second portion of the activity required the Captains to share one challenge they are encountering or anticipate encountering during their time as a captain. The student-athletes were split into eight groups that contained none of the same-sport captains. After each prompt, Coach Thompson held a debrief where the Captains were able to share what each group discussed. Some topics included:
- Having a lot of players and limited minutes for playing time
- Making teammates feel as though they matter
- Setting clear expectations
- Discovering the fine line between friendship with teammates and authority as a captain of the team
- Balancing being a student and an athlete
It is our hope that through the Sharing Experiences activity the student-athletes gained better connections with their fellow captains.
We were so honored to have Missy Franklin join us for the Captains Sharing Experiences event and appreciate her time and dedication to Amherst LEADS!
What’s next for Amherst LEADS?
- Thursday, November 1stàFutures (Junior Group) Conflict Resolution event with hostage negotiator Jack Cambria
- Thursday, November 29thàCommunity Event, “The Changing Landscapes of the Media”