The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features a Diplomat who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
To view previous scholar-athletes, click here.
When Franklin & Marshall College men's soccer stalwart Connor Whitacre '20 appeared at the annual Lancaster-Lebanon League Leadership (4L) Workshop this past Sunday, he had the unique perspective of approaching the event with experience as both a high school guest and a college host.
The annual gathering brings local high school athletes to the F&M campus, with varsity athletes and coaches from Diplomat teams providing advice to local high school players during a four-hour event at Mayser Gymnasium.
Whitacre, a native of Lancaster, first attended the event as a student at Conestoga Valley High School and now, he provides guidance as a co-captain of the Diplomat men's soccer squad.
"Having attended as a high school student has made me a better mentor," said Whitacre, a junior who is serving for the third year as a collegiate advisor.
"As college athletes, we try to talk to high schoolers about things like how to develop a leadership style, how to improve communication skills and how to take responsibility on campus and in the local community."
Hosted by F&M's Student-Athlete Leadership Council (SALC), a group of close to 100 student-athletes from numerous varsity sports. 4L Day brings together student-athletes from two dozen Lancaster-Lebanon schools, and in recent years 80 to 100 high school students have attended.
Scholastic athletes are placed in random groups and work through a series of exercises before being broken up into smaller units to discuss their experiences. Workshop topics include communication skills, goal-setting, types of leadership and leaders, personal/team values, and responsible social media use.
"Participating has broadened my perspective on leadership," said Whitacre, who is majoring in public policy and public health. "Some athletes are outstanding on the field, especially in their early years.
"But this conference talks about leadership that might expand the idea of participation to involve better communication or setting an example for others on the team."
Whitacre said he chose F&M because he was impressed by the school's academic excellence as well as its prominence on the soccer field. The 2018 Diplomats went 14-4-3 and claimed their sixth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament - a streak unmatched in the history of the Conference.
Also, he wanted to stay close to home so he could share his collegiate experience with his family.
F&M men's soccer head coach Dan Wagner recognizes Whitacre as a valuable asset, both on and off the pitch.
"When Connor steps foot on the field, he is our general," said Wagner. "He has a rare ability to focus longer and deeper than his competitors. In the opening games of the NCAA Tournament, Connor ran the equivalent of a marathon in both games. He is a winner, and our team follows him.
"He is an incredible team player," continued Wagner "It is fun to listen to him on the field. He has a high standard and never stops talking. However, he is positive and does not get into arguments with players that disagree with him. I think he is the model of a great teammate."
Whitacre's leadership skills provide a mutual benefit for SALC, which he believes is a valuable organization on campus.
In addition to 4L Day, SALC hosts numerous annual events that give back to the College and local communities. These include Track-or-Treat, TeamWork, and annual Professor Appreciation Luncheons to name just a few. Members of SALC also donate their time by organizing concessions for home games to help further their endeavors.
To learn more about these annual events, click here.
The student-athletes who contribute to this organization not only see the benefit of giving back to the local area, but they also acknowledge how these endeavors enhance the student-athlete experience at F&M.
Whitacre said that he enjoyed the 4L Day experience from his unique perspective.
"As a high school student, I got an exposure to leadership on the field," said Whitacre. "As a mentor, I enjoy working with students and talking about subjects like improving communication, setting goals and being part of a team.
"I've benefited from both parts of the program."