The end of July marks the midway point of summer vacation for teachers around the state. For Newark Charter High School teacher and athletic trainer Theresa Repole, one week of summer has been spent out of town, and another will be. And not on vacation.

Repole was one of two adult ambassadors from Delaware chosen to attend the 2018 National Federation of High School Student Leadership Summit in Indianapolis July 23–25. She, along with Wilmington Friends athletic director Jeff Ransome, accompanied six Delaware high school students to the national conference.

In her role as an ambassador, she attended sessions designed strictly for the adults and then had the opportunity to sit in on the others involving the student-athletes, who represented 32 states and Canada.

“The conference was amazing,” said Repole, who has served on Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association swimming and Unified sports committees the past four years. “I learned a lot from the different speakers, and it was very neat to watch the students go from their own smaller state groups to the point where, at the end, you couldn’t tell who was part of what state. In just that short period of time, they got to know each other and you could really see who the better leaders were going to be and they really took the information that was presented and ran with it.”

Repole and the six Delaware students will now take what they learned and incorporate it into the sessions at the DIAA Student-Athlete Leadership Conference at the Virdin Center in Lewes this weekend. They will be joined by 25 other student-athletes and four additional adults from around the state.

“Our goal this year at the conference as adults is to turn it over to the students,” Repole, who played soccer and swam at St. Mark’s and is attending her fourth DIAA conference, explained. “The six students who went to Indianapolis are going to be the driving force. We’ve given them session ideas, and our goal is to get them to take those sessions over. We want to see the students involved more, and what we saw in Indianapolis was really cool. I think that with these six students our own conference is going to be very successful. They seem very excited. When we met with them at night [in Indianapolis], they were like, ‘We want to do this and this.’ And I was like, ‘This is yours. Go for it.’”

The theme the student leaders have chosen for this year’s conference is “Brave.” All of the sessions and practical experiences will revolve around that theme.

“I’d really like to see all of the students bring back to their schools better ways that we can approach teamwork,” Repole said. “For instance, one of the leadership examples that our Delaware students learned in Indianapolis centered around the tradition of having freshmen filling up the water jugs. As leaders, we should all be helping. Also, how can we improve communication for the teammates who are shy and haven’t picked up the communication skills yet? If implemented, both of these things should make our teams better.”

Two of the student-athletes attending will be familiar faces for Repole. Newark Charter rising senior Nate Jones (wrestling, lacrosse) and rising junior Emma Ueltzhoffer (volleyball, lacrosse) have been selected to attend.

“Emma is one of those quiet leaders,” Repole said. “She is a very well-rounded student, a great teammate and has a really good heart. She’ll help you with anything and she’s not afraid to do anything in a positive way. She’s one of those quiet leaders.

“Nate is also quiet, but more vocal on the lacrosse field than during wrestling since they are two different type of sports,” she added. “He is a very well-rounded student and a really good teammate.”

When Repole returns from the August conference, she’ll have just 10 days left before she has to put on her “athletic trainer’s hat” as preseason practices start for fall sports. And then shortly after that, summer will be over as she heads back into the classroom to teach science and history.

“There are no regrets about spending part of my summer at the conferences because the whole point of doing it is to build leadership skills that I can then use to help my students to not only succeed on the field, but I can use the same skills to help them in the classroom,” Repole explained. “The conferences make the individual a better person, which you can then use to make many individuals better people.”

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