Bria Richardson, a
former four-year letterwinner for the Peperdine women's basketball team and a
current graduate manager with the Waves, recently attended the NCAA Emerging
Leaders Seminar in Indianapolis. She reflects on the experience that she had,
and how it helped her understand where she fits in intercollegiate athletics:
Q: You recently got back from the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar. Can you explain what exactly it was?
A: The NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar included graduate assistants and interns at schools in the NCAA, and it was all about introducing us to the world of college athletics.
Q: How did you hear about the conference, and what made you decide that it was something that you were interested in attending?
A: Several administrators at Pepperdine mentioned the seminar to me because they had been a part of it early in their careers as well.
Q: Was there an overarching theme that the NCAA was portraying at the conference?
A: Yes, we talked a lot about personality traits and how they play into the world of intercollegiate athletics and how the traits link to different roles within athletics. A big part of it was learning about yourself in the workplace and finding the strengths and weaknesses in order to use them in the job at hand. The method we used to identify the traits was called the DISC program. In the DISC program, you take a test and answer questions based on how you would react in certain workplace situations. After the test is finished, the program gives you values for each letter in DISC. The D stands for dominant, the I for inspiring, the S for supportive and the C for cautious. It is very similar to the Meyers-Briggs test or the Strengths-Finder test.
Q: What were some of the largest takeaways that you personally had from the conference?
A: We learned about the NCAA rules that are being talked about and implemented. A couple of the big ones that really stuck with me are the time management plan and the travel day rules. Learning about the rules and how they become implemented was really cool to see. A really great thing the NCAA is doing is giving the student-athletes a say in the proceedings through SAAC (the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee). The biggest takeaway that I had was that they are now listening to the athletes a lot more than they previously were.
Q: How big is the voice of the SAAC in these proceedings?
A: It seems to be very instrumental. SAAC was really pushing the rules that are being talked about and implemented, and it seems like the NCAA is really listening to its student-athletes.
Q: In your current position of graduate manager for the women's basketball team, how can you use what you learned at the conference to benefit the team?
understanding peoples' behavior styles. It's pretty funny because now when I
talk to the girls, the letters from the DISC become apparent in the girls. I
find myself thinking about which letter each girl would be more dominant in
while speaking to them. It has also been helpful in finding their strengths and
weaknesses and knowing how to talk to them in order to make them more
successful as athletes, but more importantly as human beings. Being able to
know how to speak to different people through the DISC program is something
that I can see myself using for a long time. I think that a lot of people would
benefit form taking the test, not just in sports settings, but also in other
work settings, and even family settings.
Q: Thinking back to your playing days at Pepperdine, was there anything that you learned at the conference that you wish you would have known while you were still playing?
A: I wish I would have known how important SAAC is. I think that had I known what kind of voice it gives student-athletes, I would have become more involved than I already was. I served on one of the committees within the campus, but knowing what I do now about how much of a voice they have in the lives of the student-athletes, I would have taken up a leadership position and tried to make even more of a difference.
Q: How do you think that this experience will make you a better leader as you continue your career into collegiate athletics?
A: Listening to our keynote speaker and the other speakers, I think that I have learned the point of being in intercollegiate athletics. It's about the love of the students. It isn't about the money, it isn't about the titles. I think that having the experience that I did, and hearing from different people from all sides of athletics, whether it be the academics side or the compliance side and everything in between, hearing their stories was the best way to learn about what they did. I think that the stories are the best way we can learn about how to do our job in athletics more efficiently.
Q: If you knew someone else who was thinking about attending the conference, would you give them a recommendation to attend? If so, why?
A: I highly recommend it. One of the other takeaways that I had was you get to learn about all the other sectors in athletics. Whether it was academics, student development, compliance, marketing, it was all there. You get to kind of find your niche when you hear about all of the other types of jobs there are in collegiate athletics. Within the conference, there were breakout sessions, where you got to choose the career that you were currently in, which for me was academic support because they didn't have a session specifically for coaching, and I also work with athlete support, and also a session for jobs that you might be interested in going forward. I was able to confirm that I am definitely interested in academic support and student development, but I also learned that the marketing side of things is not something that I could see myself doing. It helps you get a feel for which aspect of intercollegiate athletics is really for you.