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The James Clemens softball team used the off-season to rekindle comradery among the team roster by attending a special Leadership Program to learn how to be great leaders and teammates. Photo Contributed

Leadership Program Boosts James Clemens Softball Team

MADISON- A Leadership Program brought forth by James Clemens head softball coach Brittany Vintson seems to be a hit with the entire team roster as the squad kicks off the 2020 season.

The second-year leader of the softball program installed an off-season program in an attempt to form better relationships among the players and teach each player to be great leaders and teammates. Vintson knows the unscheduled gatherings were beneficial for players as the program gave them an opportunity to truly acknowledge their roles on the team. She added, “The program kind of put things in our heads to make a change. Over the years I have discovered that most youngsters do not truly know how to be a great leader. Most just don’t truly know how to be one.”

The Leadership Program incorporated several guest speakers with a booklet titled “7 Ways to Lead Your Team, by Bruce Brown. The booklet contained seven sections: Serve First, Be the Example, Be the Lifeline of Communication, Praise Others-Be Quietly Confident, Protect and Defend Your Team-Be Loyal, Know Your Core Covenants-Confront Violations-Be a Problem Solver and Be Mentally Tough. Each player would take the booklet home and study and then meet each Wednesday to discuss what they had learned and how to incorporate their knowledge into reality experiences.

“For me, I’m one of the quieter players on the team, so I’ve learned to be more vocal and even helped others with their personal situations,” said Deborah Grady senior outfielder for the Jets. “I’ve learned who can take criticism and how others can’t. I’ve been able to see who’s comfortable with what.”

Vintson reached out among the local community to find guest speakers who could bring their own personal experiences that could easily influence the Lady Jets in preparation for the upcoming season. She brought in members of the Alabama A&M softball team, former NFL and UNA football player Bruce Jones who is now a director of youth services in Decatur and Stacy Franklin, a one-time college soccer player who spoke of her selfishness and how to adapt to become selfless.

Vintson also had her assistant coaches Macie Couey and Ashley Strode speak to the team. “I wanted our girls to get a better idea of how blessed we are to have the coaching staff we do,” added Vintson, who hopes to have additional guest speakers at later dates.

“I definitely think the booklet helped as a way to open up my mind in certain situations we didn’t concentrate on,” said senior first baseman Caroline Hopkins. “It brought to our attention things we could dive deeper into and focus more on. The guest speakers really put into perspective of what it looks like to succeed through their successes and leadership.”

The 2019 version of the Lady Jets played to a 29-18-1 record and return six starters this season with only three seniors. Senior leadership will be at a minimum in 2020, which gave Vintson the idea of instilling leadership qualities in the entire roster of players. Vintson indicated the experiences with the Leadership Program was an eye-opener for each individual player.

“They responded extremely well and really bought into what we were trying to do,” added Vintson. “Since we had these discussions, I have personally seen them put into real life situations and respond in a way that we had practiced and learned from the program.”

Makayla Barnett, senior centerfielder for James Clemens is the team’s power hitter, but has learned the real power is leadership and leading by example.

“The program kind of put things in our hands to make a change for the better,” said Barnett. “I think we’re ready as a team and will do what we need to do to go in the right direction.”

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