The Battle Plan

Jan. 24, 2014

We're in the midst of a very busy time in the Athletics Department right now. The basketball seasons are at their midway point and several other sports are shifting into high gear. Meanwhile, the baseball and softball seasons are on the horizon, hopefully bringing some warm weather with them!

Our gymnastics team hosts the annual Power of Pink meet tonight against Arkansas at Coleman Coliseum. We expect another sellout crowd for the event, which Coach Sarah Patterson has made through her efforts into one of the most memorable athletics events of the entire year. Meanwhile, all of our teams need your support. We need you to show up early, be loud and stay late. It makes a tremendous difference to our student-athletes.

Developing Leaders and Ambassadors

One of the athletic department's initiatives of which I am proudest is our Emerging Tide Leaders program. This is meaningful to me primarily because it is a visible example of one of my primary objectives as Director of Athletics - to help our student-athletes develop into leaders and ambassadors for our department, our University and our state.

Comprised of sophomore, junior and senior student-athletes, the Emerging Tide Leaders program involves athletes from every sport that we sponsor. They are hand-picked by their coaches as emerging leaders on their respective teams. They range from team captains to others that simply have shown the ability to be influential in a positive way on their team.

Kevin Almond (our Senior Associate Athletic Director for Support Services) works with Jon Dever (our Associate Athletics Director for Student Services) to organize the program, but the student-athletes guide the leadership initiatives. Under the guidance of Kevin and Jon, Emerging Tide Leaders works to create and nurture a culture that understands that ultimate team success actually is derived from the attitude and outlook of influential people on the team. The program embodies a commitment to building leaders who not only win on the field, but cultivate leadership qualities in their teammates that will benefit society after they graduate.

Dr. Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders, Inc., presented to our Emerging Tide Leaders on Sunday, Jan. 12. He spoke to the group about "The Primary Colors of a Leader." The presentation was coupled with engaging hands-on activities that not only focused on techniques, skills or mechanics of how to be a leader, but challenged them to look at the inward qualities that make effective leaders. The student-athletes came away with a formula that they could apply to Healthy Effective Leadership: Character + Perspective +Courage + Favor = Healthy Effective Leadership, what Dr. Elmore describes as the primary colors of a leader.

Character enables the leader to do what is right even when it is difficult. Perspective enables the leader to see and understand what must happen to reach the target. Courage enables the leader to initiate and take the risk to step out toward a goal. Favor enables the leader to attract and empower others to join them in the cause.

On Monday, Jan. 13, Dr. Elmore met with coaches and staff on "Marching off the Map: Charting a New Course for Student Athlete Development." Dr. Elmore described how students differ today than from years past, and he told the coaches and staff that, by considering that students have grown up with various technologies, that they must be approached differently when it comes to drawing on their skills, creativity and leadership qualities.

We seldom hear about our student-athletes outside of their efforts in competition, or when they slip and get into some trouble. The overwhelming majority of our student-athletes at Alabama (and nationally) are intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working young people that represent the best of what our society has to offer. They are about so much more than the games that they play. The University of Alabama is about winning championships and building champions. Our Emerging Tide Leaders program provides a leading edge opportunity for our best and brightest.

A Special Visit with an Old Friend

I had an opportunity to spend about an hour on Thursday prior to the men's basketball game with Bob Knight, who was in town to do the color commentary on the ESPN telecast with broadcaster Rece Davis. Bob was a young head coach at Army back in the mid 60's when I spent two years as a football coach at the U.S. Military Academy. We had fun reminiscing about the old days and talking about how much collegiate athletics has changed over the years. Bob is very bright and definitely a colorful character, who does an excellent job of analyzing modern basketball. It was a special treat getting to spend some time with him.

A Milestone Victory

Hearty congratulations to our women's basketball team and their staff, led by head coach Kristy Curry. The Tide upset eighth-ranked Kentucky in Lexington on Thursday night on a last-second shot by senior Daisha Simmons. It gave our women's program its first road victory over a top 10 opponent since 1998 and is an impressive milestone for Coach Curry in her first year leading the team.

This Weekend on Campus

As we kick off all our spring sports, I hope that our students and fans will find a team to adopt, get to know, and show up often to support throughout the season. There are exciting events that will take place on many different fronts. Competing in the SEC gives us all a chance to see the finest that college athletics has to offer in virtually every sport. That will be particularly evident in the coming weeks as our outdoor sports begin their seasons. This weekend our women's tennis team hosts William & Mary on Saturday at 10 a.m., then plays another match on Sunday afternoon (check for details). Our men's basketball team hosts LSU on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum. On Sunday at 2 p.m., come out to Foster Auditorium to see our women's basketball team take on Georgia.

Let's keep the Tide rising!

    The Battle Plan