Kate Benz Invited to Attend NCAA Leadership Conference

May 17, 2005

PULLMAN, Wash. - It's turning out to be a busy off-season for some Washington State University women's basketball players.

Incoming junior Adriane Ferguson is a member of an Athletes in Action squad that will tour Spain May 19-June 3.

While Ferguson is in Europe, fellow incoming junior Kate Benz will also be traveling, though not quite as far as her teammate.

The 6-foot-2 forward from Portland, Ore., has been invited to participate in the ninth annual NCAA Leadership Conference, May 29-June 2 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Benz is one of 324 NCAA student-athletes tabbed as current or future leaders on their college campuses, who will meet to discuss key issues in intercollegiate athletics and enhance their leadership skills at the conference.

The 2005 NCAA Leadership Conference provides student-athletes with a forum to openly discuss issues that may affect them on their campuses and in their communities, while also providing them with the opportunity to enhance their leadership, communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills. The NCAA Leadership Conference also promotes better communication among student-athletes, coaches, administrators, faculty and communities. The five-day leadership conference consists of daily exercises and activities to help the student-athletes develop as individuals and as contributing members to a group.

The 324 student-athlete leaders were selected from a total of 1,166 nomination forms submitted by college and university officials who have NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills programs on their campuses. They represent Divisions I, II and III, and fall, winter and spring sports. Additionally, the NCAA student-athletes participating in this year's leadership conference represent 16 countries, including the United States.

During the conference, student-athletes will discuss a variety of topics such as sportsmanship; public perceptions of student-athletes; conflict resolution; student-athlete mental health; and social responsibilities. They also will discuss division-specific issues and create dialogue surrounding possible solutions to those particular issues.

A total of 52 coaches, athletics administrators and program facilitators will join the student-athletes at the conference. Also attending will be Dr. Angelo Armenti, president of California University of Pennsylvania. In addition, members representing each division's national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will lead discussion sessions and group activities. SAAC provides feedback to NCAA committees and councils regarding student well-being issues and is considered the 'voice' of the student-athlete within the NCAA governance structure.

NCAA President Myles Brand will speak to the student-athletes May 30. Keynote speakers for the week include Special Olympics athlete and motivational speaker Loretta Claiborne and 'Survivor: Africa' television show winner Ethan Zohn. Claiborne will speak May 31, and Zohn will speak June 2. In addition to the speaker and discussion sessions, the student-athletes will participate in teambuilding initiative games at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex June 1.

Following the leadership conference, the student-athletes will be asked to share their experiences and topic discussions with their campus SAAC, as well as other campus leaders. The participants also are asked to develop a self-directed project that addresses an issue on their campus or in their community and to implement the project once they return to their schools.

Selection criteria for the conference include the student-athletes' demonstrated ability and strong desire to be a leader and the student-athletes' potential to benefit significantly from a leadership development experience. In order to be eligible for the conference, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing, and have athletics eligibility remaining in the following academic year. A committee reviews the nominations to determine the final selections. The committee also works to ensure that the conference includes a diverse group of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.

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