150 student-athletes learn about leadership at Red Ribbon Conference

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- More than 150 student-athletes, chosen from the 10 local schools in the NIC-10 Conference, came together as one unit Thursday to learn about leadership at the Red Ribbon Leadership Conference. This event helps athletes learn how to become leaders not only on their team but in their schools and community.

"We expect kids to be great leaders, we tell them to lead and then we don't give them the skills behind it. So my belief is that expectation without explanation leads to exasperation. I want to give the kids some real hands-on skills, how they can work through conflict, build team chemistry, and represent themselves and their school,” said Craig Hillier, the speaker of the conference and Owner of Winning Edge Seminars.

Craig Hillier tours the nation and has impacted more than 150,000 students over the past 25 years. Hillier interacts with students through engaging activities during his program, ‘Beyond the Scoreboard.'

"I think it's great to see this camaraderie being built, sometimes that gets lost in competition where we have too many rivalries and people trying to butt heads and it's awesome to see these kids interacting with each other and doing these activities,” said Darin Wecker, the Head Football Coach at Belvidere High School.

Red Ribbon Conferences focus on teaching students how to help their peers through challenging situations.

"Kids have a pretty good knack at knowing the problems that their peers have before an adult, so if we can teach these young kids how to be a leader and how to effectively help somebody that might be dealing with depression, suicide, or drug abuse, the kids will be our first responders," said Paul Perrone, the Red Ribbon Program Director.
Students are looking forward to bringing the skills they've learned back to their teams.

"Leaders can help us form together as a group and have team unity to help us improve and grow as a team," said Alexandria DeVinney, an athlete at Boylan Catholic High School.

This is an annual program that is open to all schools in the Rockford area.