For the first time in 2017-18, the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute is recognizing Leaders of the Month. Candidates for Leaders of the Month are nominated by coaches based on leadership qualities demonsrated on and off the field. At least one "Principal Leader" and at least one "Aspiring Leader" will be selected each month. The November 2017 honorees are senior Christine Bendzinski (cross country/track & field) and sophomore Rade Joksimovic (water polo). 

Each of the recipients was asked for their thoughts on various elements of leadership.

CHRISTINE BENDZINSKI, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field (Principal Leader)

Chrissy is one of the top distance runners ever to compete at Bucknell. The Hebron, Conn., native recently captured her second straight Patriot League cross country championship. She went on to place fourth at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and qualified for the NCAA Championship in Louisville. On the track, she is a 17-time All-Patriot League performer, including three straight gold medals in the mile. She holds school records in the 800m, 1,500m, mile and 3,000m, and is also a two-time Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year majoring in cell biology and biochemistry.  

What is your favorite part about being a leader? What is the toughest? 

My favorite thing about being a leader is the elevated way I am able to impact others. While I know that doing things the right way and doing them well does not go unnoticed, as a leader these things are magnified. This makes it easier for me to have an effect on other people. They are more likely to follow what I do or what I say, just because of that title. With that comes tremendous responsibility, but I have enjoyed the challenges that come with taking it on.

What was the most important leadership moment on your team this year and why? 

Leading up to the Patriot League Championships, we were very focused, but didn’t know how we could do, because we just had not been able to be 100% at any meet yet this season. This is a common thing in cross country, where if you’re not feeling it, you sometimes know this right away, and you still have to fight through the rest of a 6 kilometer race. I think our leaders did a great job making sure our team was focused and calm despite the pressure we had on us, and although we still did not have a perfect race, we come together as a team and won the meet. We never have a hard time being pumped up for PLCs, but it is up to the leaders to help our teammates stay calm and collected in order to use their energy effectively.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

What gets me up in the morning is probably a balance between my inner motivation to be my best, and also the people who rely on me or hold me accountable. I’d like to think that it’s not completely based on what others expect of me, and that the world would be totally fine if I slept in forever (so to speak). I do have this pull to do eventually put out good in the world, and so that makes me excited to get up and accomplish things. But I also have people looking after me who I never want to disappoint.

What advice do you have for other student-athlete leaders? 

My main advice would be to take deep breaths often, and note that yes, it may be tempting to say “this is not what I signed up for”, but embrace the issues and challenges and know that handling these is all part of the reward. Leading is never an easy job, but handling things with grace will not only have a positive effect on those you lead, but will affect your own self just as much, if not more. This role is causing you to grow more than you even thought it would, and looking back, I think you will notice that.

RADE JOKSIMOVIC, Water Polo (Aspiring Leader)

A native of Novi Sad, Serbia, Rade Joksimovic is already one of the most prolific goal-scorers in Bucknell water polo history. Rade scored 154 goals as a freshman in 2016, and then followed it up with a 106-goal campaign this fall. A Third Team All-American last season, Rade repeated as MAWPC East MVP in 2017. He joined Hall-of-Famers Scott Schulte and Jeff Hilk as the only Bison with multiple 100-goal seasons.    

What are the elements of leadership that you are working hardest on?

  • The elements that I am working hardest on is knowing my teammates, knowing how they act when they are down and what brings them back up, and also just what I can do to make their practices more useful and how I can motivate them to improve.

What was the most important leadership moment on your team this year and why? 

My import moment was our second-to-last game of the year, in the conference semifinals when we lost to a team that we previously had beaten twice during the regular season. This was important because I have learned how some of the players that I will be playing with in the future handle the pressure as well as what they expect me to do to make them better.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

It is simple, the will to get better, to improve myself and my game and develop into an even better player and a leader.

What advice do you have for other student-athlete leaders? 

Just be yourselves. Being a leader doesn't mean that you are above them, it just means that you should use your game talent or even just your charisma to influence your teammates to work harder and help them overcome obstacles.