I Would Have Done Anything for This


One corona casualty was AIA’s women’s basketball leadership academy until the director, Jenna Bolin, had an idea: What if we tried it virtually? We could offer it to many more people because there wouldn’t be a need for travel, housing or food costs. And so, what normally lasts about a week was condensed into a virtual weekend retreat.

Womens Leadership Acad 2020

(The image is not a link.  You can visit the leadership academy website by clicking here.)

All Division 1 (and some D2 and D3) women’s basketball coaches were invited to “send” players whose leadership they wanted to develop. Previous academies held at AIA’s HQ averaged about a dozen participants, but God was about to blow the doors off our expectations! So many players signed up that we had to offer a second weekend and had 10 times the participants!

The leadership academy speakers included WNBA coaches and players and leadership experts. Their value-added training was delivered from the context of their faith in Jesus. Sports analyst Shelly Till, a former D1 player and coach who now has two kids playing D1 basketball, had a great platform to talk about mental health and vulnerability. Every speaker emphasized leading through relationships by loving and serving one’s teammates.

Bekah Walter, an AIA intern I coach and a former college basketball player, led one of the cohorts for small group breakout sessions. She says, “I would have done anything to have this in college! I was a leader, but I had no direction or goals to lead. I didn’t know how to maximize my strengths. We were all leading against the way our coach was leading.”

Bekahwalter 2020

Each participant at the academy was encouraged to find a definition of success that’s bigger than a scoreboard or a season. By the end, each was able to identify an area for growth, and all left with personal development plans. Most expressed a desire for continued involvement with AIA. This will open doors for the gospel.

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Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.