Central conducts Sports Leadership Seminar

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PELLA—Providing a unique new opportunity to explore a key component of athletics success, Central College is offering its Sports Leadership Seminar to area high school athletes and coaches.

Three 90-minute sessions will be conducted on consecutive Sundays, from 4-5:30 p.m. January 12, 19 and 26, with a meal to follow each session.

Facilitating the seminar will be Dutch athletics director and head wrestling coach Eric Van Kley, senior associate athletics director and associate head softball coach Alicia O’Brien, softball coach George Wares and football coach Jeff McMartin along with special guest instructors. Male and female student-athletes from Central’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will also be featured each week.

Each session will open with a 20-minute presentation, followed by breakout discussions and group activities. A book on leadership will also be provided as part of the seminar.

“Leadership has always been viewed as important in athletics, but in recent years, more and more teams and coaches have discovered how critical a role it really plays in a successful program,” Van Kley said. “Central has become very purposeful about developing better leaders on their teams through leadership councils. It makes sense to extend that support to high school teams that could benefit from lessons learned.”

Central’s facilitators are uniquely qualified to lead the sessions, Van Kley said.

“Leadership development is a passion for each of them,” he said. “They are long-time students of the subject beyond the experience they’ve gained as coaches. Coach McMartin is an instructor at leadership camps across the country each summer. Coach O’Brien and Coach Wares have provided leadership instruction in numerous settings throughout Iowa and around the U.S.”

Experienced facilitators–Each of the facilitators serves in leadership roles outside of Central as well.

McMartin is one of just two NCAA Division III coaches serving on the American Football Coaches Association board of trustees and earlier chaired the AFCA Division III head coaches council. He’s posted a 119-40 career record with four conference championships and ranks 15th in Division III in career winning percentage. Now in his 16th season as football coach at Central, McMartin spent six years as men’s and women’s track and field head coach at Beloit College (Wis.)

For more than 15 years McMartin has served as a leadership instructor for the week-long Economics for Leaders summer program for high school students, teaching on the campuses of Yale University, Duke University, Wake Forest University, the University of Colorado, the University of Texas and Rice University, among other sites.

Entering his 35th season, Wares is the winningest coach in Division III softball history with a 1,125-384-3 record, including a 95-60 postseason mark, guiding the Dutch to four NCAA national titles and a record 29 NCAA tournament berths. A member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Wares serves on the NCAA Division III Softball Championships Committee. He previously served to terms on the NFCA Board of Directors. He was a co-instructor at the 2017 NFCA Convention in Las Vegas and was the only non-Division I coach to serve as a featured speaker at last year’s NFCA Coaches Clinic in Minneapolis.

O’Brien was head softball coach at Western Connecticut State University for 18 seasons, leading her team to eight NCAA tournament berths and has helped the Dutch make nine tourney appearances in her 12 seasons at Central. A former NFCA Division III Regional All-America Committee member, O’Brien is annually Central’s voting representative at the NCAA Convention.

Van Kley is chair of the NCAA Division III Wrestling Committee and previously spent a year as president of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. He became Central’s wrestling coach in 2007 and, under his leadership, the Dutch have received two of the past three Division III Central Region coaching staff of the year awards. Central has qualified at least one wrestler to the NCAA Division III Championships the past nine years and the Dutch were ranked in the national top 20 throughout last season.

For more information–Seminar cost is $25, which includes meals and the featured book. For more information, contact Van Kley at vankleye@central.edu or 641-628-5422.