Photograph courtesy Richmond Athletics

For college students who devote countless hours to training and competing — on top of maintaining the focus needed to thrive academically — leadership development can be complicated.

“As an athlete, there’s just so many more things coming at you,” said Lauren Wicklund, UR’s associate athletic director for leadership development.

Wicklund spent the past year overseeing a planning process to create the Spider Athletics Leadership Initiative. Fully launched this fall, all Richmond student-athletes now take part in the comprehensive initiative, which includes separate tracks — wellness courses for first-years, professional-transition workshops for seniors, cohorts of nominated “rising leaders,” a “champion leaders” program for team captains, and opportunities for coaches and other athletic department staff.

“Spider Athletics is committed to making sure our student-athletes graduate with the tools and training to be the next generation of transformational leaders,” said John Hardt, Richmond vice president and director of athletics.

The object is to prepare student-athletes to thrive wherever they go, Wicklund said. “Some of them will have a chance at playing professional sports, but many of them will also have a chance at becoming doctors and lawyers and running big organizations.”