RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician University student-athletes T.J. Greco (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./Arlington) and Jaimie Parisi (South Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) represented the Felician Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at the 2018 Fall Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC)/East Coast Conference (ECC) Leadership Weekend. The conference was host by CACC member Nyack College from October 26 to 27 on its Nyack, N.Y., campus.
Tagged "Experience in Community in Character," the two-day series of events marked the fifth year that the two NCAA Division II conferences came together to sponsor a SAAC Leadership Weekend. Representatives from member schools were made privy to several presentations about being a student-athlete and life beyond athletics.
"I'd recommend this experience to anyone," said Greco, a senior catcher on the baseball team. "Our schools are similar in many ways, so it was good to see people that we compete against in a different light and have that reinforced. We found that many of us had a lot of the same experiences. The weekend was full of constant positive reinforcement."
The signature event of the weekend was a Halloween dance that the CACC and ECC athletes hosted for a local chapter of the Special Olympics. The attendees and SAAC members worked together to create 100 paracord bracelets which were donated to Operation Gratitude.
But just as meaningful to the Felician delegation were the messages, in several formats, delivered by the presenters.
"What stayed with me the most was the very first panel," said Parisi, a redshirt sophomore softball utility player. She was referring to a talk titled "Showing Up Your Best Everyday" by Tom Hess, a professional leadership development coach for college athletics and founder of The Development Lab. "It made me think about my actions and thoughts on gamedays, and on how to stay focused. There are also moments as an athlete where you have to build your teammates' spirits, and that's difficult to do if you're not at your best."
Greco was affected most by mental health presentations by 1996 Olympic gold-medal hurdler Derrick Adkins and mental/community health educator Jonathan Johnson, who discussed sleep hygiene and its relation to athletic performance.
"When an Olympic gold-medalist can share his battle with alcoholism, depression and anxiety, it's comforting because these are things that go un-talked about," Greco said. "The sleep seminar was full of common-sense tips about habits that can improve performance. In both cases, there were lots of shared experiences among the CACC and ECC athletes."
If one of the organizers' goals was to leave a lasting impression, they did so with the Golden Falcon contingent.
"It was cool to see people who are normally our rivals just be normal people." Parisi said. "I have stayed in contact with just about everyone I met."
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,400 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.