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 December 2017 honorees are senior wrestler Tom Sleigh and junior basketball student-athlete Kate Walker

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

TOM SLEIGH, Wrestling (Principal Leader)

An environmental studies major from DuBois, Pa., Tom is a senior 197-pounder and two-year captain on the Bison wrestling team. He is a three-time EIWA Championships placewinner (runner-up last season), a three-time NCAA qualifier, and a two-time EIWA All-Academic selection. Tom entered his senior year with an 89-35 career record and ranked 11th on the school's all-time wins list. He was considered one of the favorites to win the 197-pound title at EIWAs this season but unfortunately suffered an injury in the first competition of the season. 

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

My favorite part about being a leader is helping and guiding other individuals when they are experiencing hardships or when they need motivation. I also love to see these same individuals succeed and have a smile on their face. The most difficult obstacle that I face as a leader is when I am faced with a situation or question that I have not experienced and I do not have a "correct" answer. 

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

The most important part of the season to show leadership is at the beginning. This is critical because new freshman are coming in and it is easy in college to be persuaded in the wrong direction. Leaders must show and teach the freshman how to act on and off the wrestling mat.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

My goals are what get me up in the morning. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to succeed. If I take even one day off, my goals and the opportunities for that day are lost. Every day I try to do something that brings me closer to my goal. 

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

Never give up even in the hardest times and whatever you preach as a leader, make sure you are doing the same through your actions. 

KATE WALKER, Basketball (Aspiring Leader)

Red Oak, Iowa native Kate Walker has steadily improved her game each year at Bucknell and now is one of the top guards in the Patriot League. She is averaging a career-high 10.7 points per game this season while starting every contest. Last year, Kate played a key role on a team that catured the Patriot League championship and went to the NCAA Tournament. She is a double major in education and psychology.    

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

  • I am working hard to be more of a vocal leader, on and off the court, this year. I was very fortunate to spend my first two years at Bucknell under great leaders and one thing that stood out to me about them is that they were always over communicating. Whether it was about a team meal, what we needed to focus on in practice, or what defense we were in during a game, every person on the team was always on the same page. I have always tried to lead by example, but I have learned that being vocal and communicating are also very necessary. 

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

I think the most important leadership moment on my team this year was after our first conference loss against a very good American team. As a team, we came to the conclusion that we were not doing everything in our power to be successful. We decided that if we wanted to reach our full potential, we needed to raise our standards. It was one thing to come together as a team and talk about what kind of team we wanted to be, but it was another to put our words and ideas into action. As leaders on the team, a few of us had to make sure that the standard was raised and others were being held accountable.  

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

Thoughts of the delicious breakfast sandwich (bacon, egg, and cheese on a biscuit) waiting for me at the one and only Bostwick Marketplace!!

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

- Nothing worth having comes easy!! You always hear people say, "If it were easy, everyone would do it." So true! I've learned that in sports and in life in general, the more rewarding choices, and boy do we face a lot of choices throughout our days, are often times harder. There were times throughout last basketball season when we could have gotten complacent and lowered our standards, but we continued to put in the time and push each other. It most definitely paid off (with a PL Championship)!
- Control what you can control! I sometimes find myself getting upset and worked up about things that are out of my control. My mom has had to remind me numerous times that getting upset about these things is just silly!
- Work hard, but laugh and smile a lot!