For the first time in 2017-18, the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute will recognize 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. There are three recipients for the inaugural award for September 2017: Sophie Bullard of volleyball, Meghan Holtz of women's soccer, and Joe Lauro of football. 

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

SOPHIE BULLARD, Volleyball (Aspiring Leader)

Sophie is a sophomore outside hitter from Key Biscayne, Florida. She is off to a great start in 2017. Sophie was named the MVP of the Bucknell Invitational after recording three double-doubles in kills and digs in wins over La Salle, Iona, and NJIT. She later earned Patriot League Player of the Week and Bison Athlete of the Week honors for her performance in the tournament. She averages just under 3.0 kills per set, which leads the team and ranks eighth in the Patriot League. 

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

I would say as a leader I am working hardest on getting to know how each of my teammates respond to substantial feedback and criticism during practice. If I can understand what my teammate needs to get out of their head or to pump them up, then I feel I am doing my job because that will essentially help us win. I am focusing on always demonstrating hard work (whether it be verbal or physical) so that others feed off of this. I know that I look up to people who give me motivation and make me want to get better (compete), so I am trying to do that. 

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

I think so far my biggest role was probably during our Colgate match after winning the first two sets and losing the third. I only had one thought going into the fourth set and that was to finish the match. I think I helped in bringing the most competitive side out of every single one of us by constantly talking on the court and celebrating big to bring energy because volleyball is such a momentum game. 

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

I would characterize myself as highly competitive, so what gets me up every morning is knowing that I have another opportunity in practice to prove to myself and my teammates what I can do and how I will contribute to our team. Everyone has goals that need to be accomplished, (one of mine is getting the most double/doubles) and the only way to do that is waking up ready to make changes in the way you play in order to progress and be the best you can be. 

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

I would say the best way to lead is be the example and put your teammates in front of you, no matter how cliche that sounds. If you can find a way to motivate your teammates to compete, they will look up to you.


MEGHAN HOLTZ, Women's Soccer (Principal Leader)

Meghan is a senior midfielder on the defending Patriot League champion Bison women's soccer team. A native of Freehold, New Jersey, she is in her second season as a team co-captain and is already a two-time All-Patriot League selection. She has been one of the team's top players again this season and earned a Patriot League Midfielder of the Week honor after scoring the tying goal late in regulation and then assisting on the winning goal in overtime in a victory over Rider. 

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

My favorite part about being a leader is being a part of inspiring growth in something bigger than myself both on and off the field. Being able to be part of something that helps individuals succeed as well as the team is something I get to do because of my leadership role. The toughest part about being a leader is being that voice of calm when things are not going right. Although I may be frustrated or panicked at the moment, I need to put aside my frustrations to lead by example and ensure confidence in my teammates and coaches.

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

The most important leadership moment on our team this year was after the loss at William & Mary. We had a tough opening schedule to our season this year playing highly ranked teams. We were able to compete in every game, but we were not getting the results that we wanted. Some of the difficulties we were having was trying to find the passion and heart. We lost some big personalities last year, and at the beginning of the season, we were definitely still searching for people to replace them. After the loss at William & Mary, I believe we really changed our perspectives and created a refreshing positive energy on the team. Since then we have had that energy and passion and we have been getting results that we want. 

What "gets you up in the morning?"

What gets me up in the morning is wanting to be better than yesterday, while helping others be better than their yesterday. My parents have always embodied work ethic and values and instilled it in my siblings and I, so seeing how hard they work to give us the life we have makes me want to work hard to be able to give back to them and make them proud. I think that can be done in numerous ways and it is not always about self. 

What advice do you have for other student-athletes?

Advice I have for other student-athletes is to remember we only have four years to be a student-athlete and to capture every emotion and opportunity of that journey. Although it sounds cliche, my four years have flown by. At the moment it may feel like there is not enough time for work or you are too tired to do the last sprint, but eventually those problems will dissipate and you will become a better person because you overcame that hurdle. So cherish these four years and everything that comes with being a student-athlete. 


JOE LAURO, Football (Aspiring Leader)

Joe is a junior safety from Bradenton, Florida. One of the top players on an outstanding Bison defensive unit, Joe ranks third on the team with 36 tackles, and he also has an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. 

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

As of now, I am working on different ways to help some of the younger players on the team as they each have different learning styles that I am trying to adapt to.

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

I feel the most important leadership moment was during camp when our team captains talked to the entire team about how we need to change the culture from our previous years. It was obvious that their message resonated well with the team as we seem to be more focused on achieving our goals.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

The idea that the work and effort we put in could ultimately change the culture and the way students view our program is what gets me up in the morning.

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

My advice would be to observe the captains on your team and take in the good and the bad in how your team responds to their type of leadership. You can use this when put in leadership positions in order to get a positive response from your entire team.