Members of the Deacon Club Board of Visitors, their spouses, and Wake Forest staff gathered over dinner on September 29, 2017, at the Graylyn Conference Center in Winston-Salem to discuss the topic of developing champions.

It was clear from the outset that our group would spend the evening sharing some deeply personal information with each other. We connected the topic with our actions as advocates and servants of Wake Forest University, specifically athletics and the school’s student-athletes. We all were honored to hear such personal stories that helped us get to know one another even more. We heard loud and clear that providing solid mentorship and support for Wake Forest’s student-athletes is paramount to their development as champions both on and off the field – something Wake Foresters believe in deeply!

We had a lively discussion about the role of high morals and a solid work ethic in personal development. Our group was introduced through storytelling to several first-generation U.S. citizen mentors who labored and sacrificed for the good of their families. Many of us brought up strong family connections, with grandparents and siblings filling voids left by the untimely death or absence of a parent.

Much of our group discussion revolved around an impressionable time in someone’s life, personal and professional, when a role model or someone who cared deeply about the participant’s best interests was needed. That person challenged the participant to be the best he or she could be. We all agreed that college is an extremely impressionable time in the lives of student-athletes.

Our group offered some memorable remarks on the topic of developing champions:

  • “If you don’t set high expectations, you won’t achieve lofty goals.”
  • “Instead of just telling someone to do it, set an example and jump in, asking them to help you.”
  • “As a mentor, provide support and guidance. Don’t do it for them.”
  • “Each person has to come up with their own goals and determine what success means to them.”

Many of our stories involved overcoming long odds, with the encouragement of mentors, to reach goals and achieve personal success. Inevitably, our discussion came back to personal times at Wake Forest or important people who have influenced our lives through their connection to the University.