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June 20, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina senior women’s soccer player Kimmy Gillespie just recently participated in the 2007 NCAA National Student-Athlete Leadership Conference held at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Gillespie, along with football player William Brown, participated in a forum in which student-athletes had the opportunity to enhance their leadership and decision-making skills and discuss key issues in intercollegiate athletics that affect them on campus and in the community.

“It was a great experience,” said Gillespie. “I enjoyed being a part of this conference. We learned a lot of things and had a dialogue about a lot of topics that involve student-athletes.”

A three-year starter and an integral part of the women’s soccer program, Gillespie mentioned that working with other student-athletes from across the nation and from different sports helped to create a positive and creative discussion to help student-athletes in future instances. Among the topics were sportsmanship, substance abuse, social networking sites, hazing, recruiting climate, professional development and integrating student-athletes into campus.

“We talked a lot about changes you would like to see on your campus,” said Gillepsie. “You develop an action plan of something you would like to establish or implement and discuss it with others and receive feedback.” Gillespie mentioned an interest in putting together a finance workshop for student-athletes at South Carolina that could involve helping the athletes to understand how to do taxes, putting together a budget or even applying for a loan.

“We have a lot of workshops like media training and the etiquette dinner and I was thinking along the lines of a basic finance lesson that could help the athletes here at South Carolina,” said Gillespie.

Along with developing an action plan, Gillespie had the opportunity to hear from several speakers across the spectrum including NCAA president Myles Brand and many members and advisors inside the NCAA governance and leadership structure. Gillespie noted national television broadcaster Debbie Antonelli as someone she took a lot from during the conference.

“I think definitely having a woman like her in the conference was beneficial,” said Gillespie. She is someone who is able to balance her life as a worker and with a family and three kids. It was comforting knowing that you can take on such a responsibility and still be a good mother and a good wife and everything she is in her profession.”

As Gillespie and the Gamecocks gear up for the 2007 season this fall, she also realizes the importance the conference played with her and is hopeful to take back ideas with her to help lead the garnet & black to a successful year on the field.

“I think when you have an opportunity to go to events like this, you take something back,” said Gillespie. “I learned about being a little more vocal, or if I’m not a vocal person, lead by example. Going on a conference helped me realize the different personalities we have (on the team) and how we can work together and use that. I don’t know if it will be something I can do individually, but its something I can bring back to our team and share, especially our senior class. There were a lot of team-building activities that we learned.”

Eager to begin a new season, Gillespie did reflect back on her experience as one she will treasure and one that she hopes will help her as she moves on for her senior season with the South Carolina women’s soccer program.

“When I left it was like, `Wow.’

The student-athlete participants were selected from a total of 1,316 nomination forms that were submitted by college and university officials who have NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills programs on their campus. They represent Divisions I, II and III, and fall, winter and spring sports.

A selection committee chaired by Cricket Lane, director of student-athlete development at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, reviewed the nominations to determine the final selections. This year the committee selected a combined 331 student-athletes from all three divisions, comprised of 163 males and 168 females; 148 ethnic minorities, 150 Caucasians, and 33 international students. Four student-athletes representing the America-Israel Friendship League also participated in the conference.

For more information on the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program, please visit the website at or call (803) 777-8704.