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Athletics News

Jan. 21, 2012

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PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh welcomed guest speaker Jeff Janssen to campus, as The Cathy and John Pelusi Family Life Skills Program hosted its Panther Leadership Academy at the Petersen Events Center on Thursday.

“Through our Panther Leadership Academy, we strive to set a standard of leadership throughout our teams and within the culture of Pitt Athletics,” Assistant Athletic Director/Student Life Penny Semaia said. “Jeff Janssen is one of the most sought after experts in leadership. It’s great for both our coaches and student-athletes to have an opportunity to work with a professional as knowledgeable as him.”

Janssen is the founder and president of the Janssen Sports Leadership Center, which was created to train and develop leadership skills within student-athletes on three stages – rising leaders, veteran leaders and leadership 360.

During his visit to Pitt, Janssen spoke individually to these three groups of student-athletes on the importance of team chemistry and communication through bonding exercises and group discussions.

“I noticed the swimming and diving team was well represented in our session,” senior swimmer Benjamin Solari said. “We were all vocal during both the activity and group discussions. As a senior that is comforting to see because I’m passing the torch to the next group of leaders.”

Author of The Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches and The Team Captains Leadership Manual, Janssen held a Coaching Our Athletes to Championship Heights (C.O.A.C.H.) Session where he talked about leadership with Pitt’s coaches earlier in the day.

“I like the way Jeff started the session,” first year participant and Pitt assistant women’s volleyball coach Dottie Porch said. “He said there was a lot of experience in the room and that we could all learn from one another. The idea of getting all of the coaches to share what they know with each other and bounce thoughts back and forth was refreshing.”

“The first time I met with Jeff, he validated some of the things we were doing as a staff, as well as opening my eyes to new ideas,” Pitt head wrestling coach Rande Stottlemyer said. “He is not forcing information on us, but instead giving us advice based on his own experiences.

“As coaches we too have to show up and give effort 24/7,” Stottlemyer added. “We have to teach that there are going to be bumps in the road, but we determine how we handle them.”

The Panther Leadership Academy provides comprehensive leadership development programming for student-athletes. The purpose of the academy is to groom student-athletes as effective, vocal leaders now and then successful leaders in the business world tomorrow.

Janssen will return to campus on April 4-5. The Panther Leadership Academy will commence with its two-day conference in Johnstown, Pa. in June.


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