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​Ed Cooley, head men's basketball coach, discussed

the challenges of leadership with students as part of

Breakfast of Champions.

‘Breakfast of Champions’ Serves Up Leadership Skills

Providence, R.I. — Sigourney Considine ’12 (Canton, Mass.) admits she usually is not an early riser.

But the leadership training offered through “Breakfast of Champions” has motivated her to wake up early on a Wednesday to attend.

“I’m always busy doing other activities and my extracurricular activities,” Considine said. “I wanted something to focus on myself, and to focus on myself as a leader in this community.”

On a recent morning, Considine and other budding Providence College leaders heard Ed Cooley, head men’s basketball coach, describe his insights on management during Breakfast of Champions, which is sponsored by L3: Lifelong Leadership of the Office of Student Activities-Involvement-Leadership.

“Breakfast of Champions” is held every spring and is open to all students. This year, about 25 have attended the sessions, held in McPhail’s on Wednesday mornings. Some were seniors who hold executive board positions in student groups and others were freshmen “getting their feet wet,” said Leslie Heller, associate director of S.A.I.L. 

“We’re hoping they can take something away from each session that they can use in the classroom or student groups,” she said. “They’re learning skills they can use for a lifetime.”

Topics vary from year to year so students who attend multiple times will get new experiences.

Speakers this year have included Catherine Gates, PC’s health education and wellness coordinator, who taught the students relaxation techniques, as well as Mike Verzino ’07, assistant director of annual giving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, who discussed the importance of networking. 

Considine said the sessions have delivered powerful lessons. For example, during a session on teambuilding, the participants worked in groups of four to build a Lego model. Each member had a different rule to execute, but they weren’t allowed to talk. The exercise taught her about conflict resolution and alternative methods of communication, she said.

Learning about leadership

At a recent Breakfast of Champions gathering, students enjoyed pancakes, fruit, and other breakfast food before forming a semi-circle of chairs on the dance floor to hear Cooley speak.

The coach described the challenges leaders face, including the task of leading people who don’t want to be lead.

He said he observes the management styles of other leaders and personally, he tries to make everyone comfortable, “so at the end of the day, if they don’t do something, they feel disappointed they let down their leader.”

“If you know I care for you, we have a bond,” Cooley said. “You come in and give of yourself.”

Another participant, Colleen Hayes ’13 (Haverhill, Mass.), said she attended Breakfast of Champions both to become a better leader as well as to understand what PC needs in terms of leadership.

She said she, too, learned a lot from the stress management session. Hayes also valued a series of exercises led by fellow students, in which they discussed how to respond to problems that arise when planning student events.

“I feel more prepared to take on the small challenges like that,” she said.  

— Liz F. Kay

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