Iowa State Athletes Attend APPLE Conference
Ames, Iowa - Four Iowa State student-athletes traveled to Huntington Beach, Calif. to attend the 21st annual APPLE Conference in January. APPLE stands for Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education. Hannah Johnson (volleyball), Jeremiah George (football), Jennifer Dominguez (soccer), and Charlie Paul (track/XC) joined over 150 student-athletes from 33 institutions across the nation for the three-day conference.
The APPLE Conferences are presented each year by the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and have been so well received that two conferences are now held each January to accommodate interest. The conferences focus on preventing substance abuse and promoting health and wellness among student-athletes. The event helps student-athletes create substance-abuse prevention plans specific to their institutions, and trains them to implement these plans.
The Iowa State athletes felt that the conference was perfectly geared towards the collegiate-athlete audience. These topic matters are oftentimes overwhelming. It is easy to address these issues in an unrealistic way. The Cyclone student-athletes walked away feeling the opposite of overwhelmed. They felt they could realistically take what they learned and use it back on campus. Paul felt that the plan they created to address substance abuse was situation appropriate and useful.
"They approached all substance-abuse related issues with a very realistic and reasonable approach," Paul said. "They really helped steer us in creating workable plans to implement back on campus."
The conference featured two keynote speakers. Chris Kilmartin is a comedian, writer, actor, and professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington. His presentation was a witty and educational look at the fictions that rule men's lives. The other keynote speaker was Linda Hancock, Director of the Wellness Resource Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Hancock kicked off the weekend with a presentation on people's individual differences with substance-abuse risk. The presentation was one of Paul's favorites. He felt Hancock not only conveyed helpful information, but did so in an audience-appropriate manner.
"She was awesome," Paul said. "She really gave a funny, no-nonsense lecture."
In addition to keynote speakers, there were several break-out sessions over the course of the weekend. Students could choose from a variety of lectures to attend. Topics ranged from dietary supplements to hazing to leadership development.
George felt that this leadership training was particularly valuable. He is already utilizing what he learned.
"I developed many leadership qualities at the conference that I've already been using with my teammates," George said. "I will continue to use them for the rest of my life."
Team meetings allowed the student-athletes to sit down and dig deeper into what they were learning, and actually make their plan of action for addressing substance abuse. Johnson said that the best part about the conference was this plan of action.
"We actually made a plan to bring back to ISU and implement," Johnson said. "They will be checking up on us to see if we are meeting our goals, and it makes us accountable."
The conference also provided a platform for the Iowa State student-athletes to connect with their peers across the country. Paul said it was great to connect with other student-athletes who were striving for the same goals in substance-abuse prevention.
"It was really fun getting to meet other athletes from different schools," Johnson said. "It was awesome to talk to them, and hear their ideas for their own campuses."
The APPLE conference was an inspiration to the Cyclone quartet. It equipped them with the leadership skills and knowledge needed to implement their plan for substance-abuse prevention within their teams, and on Iowa State's campus.