LEWISBURG, Pa. - Before setting foot on the brand new FieldTurf playing surface at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium for the first time last week, the 27 members of the Bucknell Football freshman class gathered in a McDonnell Hall lounge for 90 minutes of introductory leadership training. And so begins a busy fall semester of Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy programming.

James Knapp, a former football and baseball student-athlete at Florida International, conducted the seminar with the Bucknell football newcomers. Representing Do What Counts, a Maryland-based company that provides leadership training for businesses, teams and other organizations, Knapp guided the Bison through a self assessment process utilizing the DiSCTM system for identifying personality styles. The ability to recognize one's own personality traits, as well as those of teammates and coaches, can enhance the team dynamic and help athletes emerge as better leaders.

The Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy launched a year ago, with the intent of helping student-athletes learn how to become effective leaders on and off the playing fields. Initial programming during the 2011-12 academic year was well-received by Bucknell's student-athletes and coaches alike, and the Leadership Academy is expected to grow moving forward.

On Aug. 19 there will be an NCAA Student Voices retreat and training seminar in Gerhard Fieldhouse. On Aug. 28, the remaining first-year student-athletes will attend the same Do What Counts program that the football newcomers attended earlier this week. Bucknell's coaches will also have a separate self-assessment training session that day.

The highlight of the fall series will be an Oct. 14 leadership kickoff event at the Campus Theater in Lewisburg, featuring Bucknell President John Bravman and special guest speaker Bill Gruver, the Scott Clinical Professor of Global Commerce, Strategy and Leadership at Bucknell.

Approximately 60 student-athletes across all 27 Bucknell varsity sports comprise the Leadership Academy, although every first-year student-athlete will receive an introduction in 2012-13.

"We are excited about entering our second year of the Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy," said senior associate director of athletics Maisha Kelly, who administers the program. "This year we have expanded our approach and model and believe that this new robust offering will further enhance the student-athlete experience at Bucknell. After a four-year implementation of leadership programming, every Bison student-athlete will have been touched by leadership training. We believe this exciting new endeavor is something that will continue to elevate Bucknell Athletics both on and off the field, and it will pay dividends for our student-athletes long after graduation."