Student-Athletes, Coaches Broaden Perspectives At NCAA Conferences During 2018-19 Academic Year

Three student-athletes and two head coaches at the University of the Ozarks attended specialized conferences after receiving grants from the National Collegiate Athletic Association during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Clarksville, Ark.-Three student-athletes and two head coaches at the University of the Ozarks attended specialized conferences after receiving grants from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Luis Alfero at CoSIDA Convention. Student-Athlete Luis Alfero attended the College Sports Information Directors of America annual convention in Orlando June 10-12. Alfero, a member of the men's soccer team, works in the Sports Information Department's office as a student videographer. A communication studies major from Clarksville, Alfero is responsible for creating video content and producing live video of Ozarks' home games. Alfero was one of eight students from NCAA Division III institutions to attend the conference.

According to the NCAA, Alfero's grant assists in the goal of building a pipeline of talented female and ethnic minority candidates, with an interest in Division III athletics communication, in an effort to ultimately diversify the division. 

"I enjoyed meeting other students with similar interests in communication, media, and sports, as well as meeting directors from all over the country in all levels of the NCAA," said Alfero. "I attended numerous sessions on a wide-range of topics including digital content production, writing, social media engagement, and strategic communication in sports information. I hope to apply what I learned to the sports information department at Ozarks this year."

Head men's wrestling coach LeRoy Gardner attended the NCAA Division III Institute for Administrative Advancement annual conference in Indianapolis April 13-15. Gardner was one of 30 administrators from around the country to participate. The LeRoy Gardner at NCAA Headquarters. conference is a partnership between the NCAA and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association and seeks to provide professional development and networking opportunities for administrators from under-represented populations in Division III athletics.

"This was a learning opportunity about issues administrators face in higher education," said Gardner. "Among the topics included were diversity and inclusion, budgeting and NCAA rules. It broadened my perspective as a coach and hopefully as a future administrator on how to manage all those aspects while preparing student-athletes for the future and facilitating for them the best experience they can have." 

Head women's basketball coach Kourtni Williams attended the NCAA Basketball Coaches Academy in Tampa Bay May 8-9. Williams joined 30 other coaches from all NCAA divisions at the Academy, which provided current, full-time intercollegiate basketball coaches at NCAA member institutions an opportunity to expand their knowledge and insight into the world of intercollegiate basketball coaching.

Kourtni Williams in Tampa Bay at Coaches Academy. "I was able to grow professionally and personally, learn more about what success looks like both on and off the court and network with other coaches from across the country," said Williams. "There is so much more to coaching than just wins and losses – we are in the business of higher education and building and maintaining relationships. I learned the value of putting the student-athlete first, the importance of knowing your why and staying true to your core values and never losing the desire to continue to develop. I left the Academy feeling empowered, confident and thankful for the platform I have to teach and impact the lives of the young women I coach."

Williams additionally attended the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum with student-athletes Breanna Aguilar and Cory Wilhelm in Orlando April 11-14. Aguilar, a women's soccer player, and Wilhelm, a men's basketball player, were selected for their involvement in Ozarks' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). According to the NCAA, participants can receive the experience of exploring the relationship between personal values, core beliefs and behavioral styles, and obtain a thorough understanding of the NCAA as a whole, the different divisional perspectives and the valuable role of SAAC.

"One of the University's core values is growth, and we want to be committed to the personal development of our student-athletes and our staff," said Athletics Director Jimmy Clark. "By attending conferences, we are enabling our student-athletes and athletic staff members the opportunity for growth and development in their respective fields and interests."