Olympic champion shares leadership advice with students

Varsity+soccer+captains+Emily+Casper+and+Cetta+Brusco+pose+for+a+photo+with+Meghan+Duggan%2C+captain+of+the+US+Olympic+Women%E2%80%99s+National+Hockey+Team+and+two+time+olympic+medalist.%0ACourtesy+of+Ms.+Kelly+Stone

Varsity soccer captains Emily Casper and Cetta Brusco pose for a photo with Meghan Duggan, captain of the US Olympic Women’s National Hockey Team and two time olympic medalist. Courtesy of Ms. Kelly Stone

Ms. Kelly Stone, Director of Athletics at Convent of the Sacred Heart, invited captain of the 2014 US Olympic Women’s National Hockey Team, Meghan Duggan, to share her valuable leadership insight with the 2014-2015 Sacred Heart varsity coaches and captains at the school’s annual Leadership Workshop August 27. She hoped that Meghan’s talk would provide a new perspective for Sacred Heart’s athletic leaders.
Meghan attended Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, where she played soccer, softball, lacrosse, and hockey. She went on to study at the University of Wisconsin with a hockey scholarship. She is a four time world champion, three time National Collegiate Athletic Association champion, and a two time olympic medalist.
Meghan focused her discussion around three key concepts that she believes are necessary for effective leadership.
In her first point, Meghan stressed the importance of creating an honest and open team atmosphere where gossip among teammates is discouraged. According to Meghan, creating an honest and truthful environment has to stem from the captain who gains respect by acting as a trustworthy and loyal leader.
Her second point emphasized the captain’s duty to set an example by persevering physically and mentally. Senior and varsity field hockey and lacrosse captain, Kate Burkett, agrees with this approach.

Varsity soccer captains Emily Casper and Cetta Brusco pose for a photo with Meghan Duggan, captain of the US Olympic Women’s National Hockey Team and two time olympic medalist. Courtesy of Ms. Kelly Stone
Varsity soccer captains Emily Casper and Cetta Brusco pose for a photo with Meghan Duggan, captain of the US Olympic Women’s National Hockey Team and two time olympic medalist.
Courtesy of Ms. Kelly Stone

“Like [Meghan] said, I think if the leader of the team is pushing herself to her limit, people will follow that intensity. When I was a freshman on varsity field hockey, I saw our captains or upperclassmen work hard in sprints or in drills or during games and it motivated me to push myself,” Kate said.
Meghan’s last point called for a captain to have “the tough conversation” with teammates. For example, if a player is not demonstrating her full commitment or acting unacceptable around the team, it is the captain’s job to talk privately with the player and lay down expectations. According to Meghan, this seemingly hard thing to do, is vital in creating a positive team dynamic.
Meghan learned the value of these three points not only through her athletic accomplishments, but also through her career struggles.
“I think the adversity I have faced throughout my career (injuries, losses, etc.) has taught me a lot about the type of leader and player I want to be,” Meghan said. “You learn a lot about your teammates and yourself when things get hard, and a good leader is someone who can pull a team together and get them back on the right path.”
Meghan’s journey has not always been easy. Her team lost the gold medal to Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and she has suffered from many injuries, including her concussion in 2011 that nearly ended her career.
“We wanted our captains to have the opportunity to engage with a young, female, accomplished athlete who has been a captain at every level of competition, (secondary school, college and Olympic),” Ms. Stone said. “To hear her approach to leadership in victory and in defeat was a good way to start the year off for our captains.”
As Meghan said, the captain does not have to be everyone’s best friend,but she must take action so that her teammates respect her.
“Proper leadership is a major reason why teams win championships and poor leadership can be a reason for a team’s struggles,” Meghan said. “I have learned from great leaders in the past and I feel like it’s very important for me to pass along things that I have learned along the way.”
– Alice Millerchip, Content Editor