Earlier this fall, 40 Hope College student-athletes headed off campus to Camp Geneva on the shores of Lake Michigan to participate in a Leadership Development Retreat.

Winter and spring sport athletes engaged in conversations surrounding the attributes of servant leaders and had the opportunity to hear from a variety of coaches and staff members. During the 24 hours, the group was together, athletes were inspired and equipped to grow in their leadership with their teams.

This retreat was the fifth conducted in partnership between Hope Athletics and the Hope College Center for Leadership (CFL). Click here to learn more about the Leadership Development Program at Hope College.  Hope Athletics will continue to partner with CFL in February 2022 when fall sport athletes will have the opportunity to attend a Leadership Development Retreat.

Four student-athletes share what they gained from the experience.

Haley Bennett, Softball

Haley Bennett poses for a portrait.
Haley Bennett

“This retreat gave me a special opportunity to not only learn about servant leadership but to be surrounded by other athletes whose coaches believe they have strong potential to be a good leader on their team. I get the chance to take back what I learned to my team and hopefully watch it change Hope Softball for the better and maybe even inspire others to lead well too.”


Clayton Dykhouse, Men’s Basketball

Clayton Dykhouse dribbles up the court at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Clayton Dykhouse

“The most valuable part of the retreat for me was connecting with other student-athletes on different teams. The different perspectives and goals shared were awesome to hear. I was inspired to lead through the different speakers, coaches, and being surrounded by other like-minded athletes. This was a really really powerful opportunity and something that I am very blessed to have experienced! 

Libby Strotman, Women’s Track & Field

Libby Strotman throws the javelin.
Libby Strotman

“The most valuable part of the retreat for me was getting to talk to and meet student-athletes from different sports that are sophomores like me. I joined track and field partway into second semester of my freshman year and, having never been on an individualized team sport, it was a lot different than what I knew. During the retreat, I was in a group with two swimmers and it was nice to talk to them about how to support teammates. 

This retreat inspired me to lead by example and to be there for my teammates. In one of the talks, we heard about being a ‘5-minute friend’ and this really spoke to me. I will use this as a leader by being there and showing my teammates that they can depend on me to be there when they need me, in 5 minutes or less.”

Ben Catton, Men’s Swimming

Ben Catton poses for a portrait.
Ben Catton

“The most valuable part of this trip for me was getting to hear from all of these coaches who have a crazy amount of intelligence and experience when it comes to leadership. I’m a person who loves to learn from those around me and will use those resources to the fullest capabilities.

What I am most excited to bring back to my team is the new understanding of the different kinds of leaders. Every single person has a specific strength and weakness when it comes to leadership, I’m very excited to take that new understanding and apply it to my team.”


Hope College student-athletes work on an activity together during their Leadership Development Retreat.

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