Stonehill Assistant Coach Whitney Edwards Participates in WBCA Leadership Workshop at Parris Island

Marines Leadership Training Workshop leaves a lasting impression

By Libby Poland
WBCA staff

Edwards (second from right) stands at attention during exercises at the WBCA's Marines Leadership Training Workshop held recently at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Allison Lotz MCRD Parris Island Combat Camera/Released)

The WBCA had 30 member assistant coaches participate in the United States Marine Corps Leadership Workshop on Aug. 26-29 at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

This is the first year that the WBCA and its member coaches have participated in a Marines Leadership Workshop.

Parris Island is the training ground for male recruits who live east of the Mississippi River and for female recruits from all over the United States.  Male recruits who live west of the Mississippi River train at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California.  

"The greatest impact the Marines Leadership Training Workshop came through observation and interaction with the Marines," said Seattle University associate head coach Kristen O'Neill. "We received a very transparent view on what boot camp and their motto 'We Make Marines' is all about. The transformation from week 1 to week 13 is incredible."

Georgia Highlands College assistant coach Demetrius Colson gained new perspective from the workshop.

"It helped me come back to my job and start holding every player accountable for each other's mistakes," said Colson. "Most of the time as a coach, I always hold that player accountable when she does wrong, but now I am treating it more so a 'one fall, we all fall' type of deal."

Participating coaches observed first-hand the training of Marine Corps recruits, experienced a variety of physical activities and exercises, and learned about the Marines' principles about leadership and how those same principles can be applied in leading a team and developing leaders within a team.  Over the two-and-a-half day workshop the coaches interacted with drill instructors and supporting Marines.

Said Colson: "I'm going to take some of the drills the Marines put their recruits through and implement them into my conditioning workouts, strength and training workouts, as well as implement the 'moral, physical and mental' aspect of being a better person, but also a better athlete."

"I will use the training within my team to provide perspective on how much more they have in them to give and going beyond their perceived limits," said Stonehill College assistant women's basketball coach Whitney Edwards.  In addition, they have so much time (i.e. summer, preseason, postseason) to get better at their weaknesses (Marine recruits have 13 weeks of training), and they should be finding ways to improve themselves and the people around them with more consistency.  I challenge our players to challenge one another.  It's not about what they individually do well, it's what we collectively are getting done, or not getting done."

The two leadership objectives of Marine Corps leadership are mission accomplishment and troop welfare, which can also be referred to as team welfare or individual welfare.  Leadership objectives, leadership traits and leadership principals are the three fundamental categories that each Marine is instructed in during their time in the service.

"From the workshop I have challenged the coaches to be organized, and dedicated to building leaders.  There has to be deliberate effort," said Edwards. 

"The sign 'We Make Marines' was very telling of the mission at Parris Island.  My hope is that coaches will commit their staffs to the saying 'We Make Leaders.' Whether it is innate, or has to be taught, there is responsibility for coaches to prepare, and supply leadership tools that are lacking on their teams.  If you don't have the knowledge or people on staff who identify those deficiencies and efficiencies, I challenge coaches to find a way.  Coaches and student-athletes both have roles to fulfill, so each is responsible for working towards the overall mission of a practice, game, season etc."

O'Neill extolled the benefits of the Marine interaction.

"The workshop helped me refocus my mindset on teamwork," said O'Neill.  "The Marines exemplify what it means to put self aside and focus on the unit. Working as one is a part of everything they do.  The enlistees must listen to their drill sergeant and follows orders.  Doing what they are told, when they are told (with the purpose of bettering the team) made for efficient and effective training."

Video Courtesy: Cpl. Caitlin Brink and Cpl. Jennifer Schubert

Attendees included:
Octavia Blue, Miami
Robyne Bostick, Northern Arizona
Shannon Bush, Vermont
Gayle Coats, Wake Forest
Demetrius Colson, Georgia Highlands College
Kacie Cryer, McNeese State
William Ferrara Jr., George Washington
Kelly Finley, Colorado
Jesse Fleming, Bowling Green State
Deja Foster, Georgia Tech
Erin Grant, Memphis
Kira Herman, Loyola Marymount
Misha Jackson, Emory
Kari Kerkhoff, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
Melissa Kolbe, Mount St. Mary's
Jon Mock, Hillsdale College
Jacquiline Moore, Arizona State
Kristen O'Neill, Seattle
Allison Pohlman, Drake
Shannon Reynolds, WBCA
Danielle Santos, Florida State
Janice Washington-Brim, Campbell
Michelle Woods-Baxter, South Florida
Whitney Edwards, Stonehill College

Caroll Lahaye, Randolph-Macon
David Lowery, Florida
Nancy Miller, North Florida
Elizabeth Naumovski, Queens College
Danielle Parks, Rhode Island
Jewel May, Texas A & M
Cassie Kosiba, Carleton College

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About the WBCA:
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association promotes women's basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game as a sport for women and girls.  For more information on the WBCA, visit