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. The March 2018 honorees are senior men's lacrosse attackman Will Sands, junior infielder Lauren Hadley from the Bison softball team, and junior men's tennis student-athlete Andrei Vitiuc

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

WILL SANDS, Men's Lacrosse (Principal Leader)

An attackman from Locust Valley, N.Y., Will is in the midst of a brilliant senior year for the Bison lacrosse squad, which is currently 9-3 and ranked No. 11 in the nation. The two-year co-captain has put himself into consideration for national player of the year honors. Through 12 games he has piled up 62 points on 19 goals and 43 assists, and he ranks third nationally in assists per game. Will now has 101 goals and 129 assists in his career, and his 230 points are second-most in school history. 

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

My favorite part about being a leader is the responsibility that comes with it. I love being able to be that person that is there for his or her teammates whenever they need it, on and off the field. The toughest part comes once adversity hits. If your team isn't in a great spot, loses a game, deals with another issue, that's when it becomes challenging. You, along with your other leaders need to trust your system and hope that the team is behind you as well.  When you have a team that's behind you whether they agree or not, that's a great key to moving past challenging times.

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

I would say the most challenging moment this year was our loss to Navy. It was our only loss of the season where the game was out of reach at the end. We just didn't execute the game plan and play our best. After a loss like that you and your teammates do some thinking like are we doing this the right way. As a leader I realized and addressed to the team that this season is a process, and you need to learn and grow as much as possible in the early stages so we can be at our best towards the end of the year. I think it's paying off as we have gotten a lot better and will continue to get better. 

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

What gets me up in the morning is the goal that I am chasing with my 42 best friends. We have a few team goals, and they are all in front of us. I get up in the morning with the mindset that it's another opprotunity to get better, which helps our team get closer to our goals.

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

The advice I would give would be to do team bonding activities weekly to get the team as close as you possibly can. Once you have this unbreakable bond with each other, you play harder for one another, and when times get tough you have each other's back and work through it. It's amazing how hard my teammates work for each other on game day, I haven't seen anything like it in my four years.

LAUREN HADLEY, Softball (Aspiring Leader)

A native of Atlanta, Lauren is one of the top players at second base in the Patriot League. After hitting .331 as a sophomore, Lauren currently leads the Patriot League in batting average (.374), slugging percentage (.654) and on-base percentage (.442) for the first-place Bison.      

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

With regards to my leadership on the field, I am working on being more vocal in the field and helping my teammates as much as I can. Being supportive of my teammates is something that I am also working on because I know how much of a difference it makes to have someone having your back no matter what the circumstances are, and it is important to me to make my teammates feel the same way. 

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

As the season progressed this year, I went through a hitting slump and was moved down to the bottom of the lineup. This was something new for me, and it would have been easy for me to start focusing more on myself and pulling some of my energy away from supporting the team. Being a junior now, I thought it was extremely important to be the one to provide the support and energy that the team needs in order to succeed. Being the one to do this was very important because it showed the team that I was willing to do whatever it took for them to succeed and it made me realize that this feeling of having the team and its success over my individual success was much more satisfying.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

My want to get better and to be a better person is what gets me up in the morning. I love working hard to better myself for myself and for others, and using the opportunities that are given to me to become the best that I can be is very important to me. 

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

My biggest piece of advice that I have for other student-athlete leaders would be to listen. Listen to your teammates and really give an effort to figure out what they need on the playing field, court, or whatever it may be, but especially what they need off of the field of play. Everyone needs something different and I found that if you can figure that out and be the person that can give your teammates at least a fifth of what they need, you will naturally be someone that they turn to. Being a leader is not easy at all and requires work, but it is completely worth it to see your team flourish.

ANDREI VITIUC, Men's Tennis (Aspiring Leader)

Andrei came to Bucknell all the way from Bucharest, Romania. He is a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete studying geography. Andrei has been a regular in the Bison tennis lineup throughout his first three seasons at Bucknell, and he is a two-time Patriot League Player of the Week.     

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

One of the elements of leadership I am currently struggling to develop is delegation. I tend to overwhelm myself with specific goals and targets instead of using the amazing human resources that surround myself. 

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

I think the hardest leadership moment on our team this year has been keeping up the motivation. After a rough start with losses to teams like University of North Carolina or University of Miami, along with intense practices and conditioning sessions, the team found it hard to bring it 100% day in and day out. However, due to incredible cohesiveness and leadership showed by our seniors and coaches, we managed to stay on track and keep working hard for the Patriot League crown.

What "gets you up in the morning?" 

I believe that the biggest motivation for me are the people that surround me. Every morning I get up trying to develop myself and help the others reach their maximum potential. Whether it's my teammates, my classmates, my friends, my coaches or others, I strive to empower everyone around me, including myself, in order to become and build a better version of us. 

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

One advice that I was given my freshman year from a very close friend of mine and one of the greatest leaders I have met in my life has been to understand that everyone you meet knows something (a skill, a piece of information, a perspective) that you don't. I believe that a lot of my leadership is based on trying to empower others to see their full potential, and through this, empowering myself in the same time. I believe that a leader is the sum of the people around him, thus, they are the most important part of your leadership journey.