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Leadership: The Heart of GCU Club Sports

November 7, 2018

GCU Club Sports Leadership Class: Teaching the Next Generation of Leaders


A 10-letter word that has such a positive and impactful meaning to those who call themselves leaders, and one that’s extremely important at GCU Club Sports.

Mark Nelson, Field and Program Coordinator of GCU Club Sports, is in his second year teaching a leadership class for student leaders of various club sports at GCU.

During these classes, Nelson offers leadership initiatives that the student leaders can begin as well as offer life lessons that can impact the lives of the student-leaders and the people they meet along the way. He also brings in other club sports coaches and staff as well as outside speakers to give their perspectives to the students.

Life Lessons

Matt Gordon, Head Coach of the Club Men’s Basketball Program, highlighted the importance of bettering oneself every single day through focusing on one single habit.

“Everybody has probably heard, ‘Do we listen to argue, or do we listen to learn?'” Gordon told the class of nearly 50 student leaders. “What do you do? Figure out one word that you can work on-one thing you can do every day to get better-and then wake up every day and think about how you can be better at that today.”

Life Groups

Another example of a leadership initiative for the student leaders is the club sports-specific student life groups.

Life groups are small, bible-based discussion groups that allow GCU students to discuss and share their Christian faith with one another.

Ben Canfield, Head Coach of the GCU Men’s and Women’s Bowling Programs, discussed these new club sports specific life groups with the student leaders, and asked for the leaders to be the conduits to keep their teams informed.

“We want to start as many small life groups within your specific teams as possible,” Canfield told the class, “with the goal of having one, two or three events scattered throughout the second semester bringing the different teams together to have a fun event or a service project.”

Bridging the Gaps

Nelson also offered his own insight on how to lead through articulating the leadership mindset of legendary NCAA Men’s Basketball coach John Wooden.

Nelson has credited Wooden with many of the principles that helped make Nelson a very successful college basketball coach, and for good reason. Wooden was the head coach of UCLA Men’s Basketball, won 10 NCAA Championships, and finished with a record of 316-68 during his 27 seasons at UCLA.

It showed, though, that the leadership class could educate Nelson, since a show of hands to a pointed Nelson question gave him and the rest of the staff in the room a moment of pause.

Undeterred, Nelson gave them a concept that showed them how basic leadership can be.

“He would show his players how to tie their shoes (to help prevent injuries),” Nelson said of Wooden. “(He didn’t have) “an end-result mentality. It was such as process-driven approach to what he did.”

Nelson’s leadership class and his coaching class (for those student leaders who have the goal of becoming a full-time coach) happen on alternating Wednesdays throughout the fall and spring semesters.

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