Learning to Lead: Ashley Carvalho ’18

Participating in athletics has long been a cornerstone of the Norwich University leadership experience. In keeping with that tradition, Junior Ashley Carvalho ’18 of the Cadets Women’s Soccer Team recently had the opportunity to attend the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Baltimore, Md., November 10–13, 2016.

The Pinellas Park, Fla., native has been a three-year standout for the women’s soccer team. Already a leader on the stat sheet in her first two seasons, Carvalho was asked to take on the additional role as the team captain as a junior.

“Serving as captain was a rewarding and challenging experience,” Carvalho said. “There was definitely a learning curve, but the new role gave me a different viewpoint on situations and helped me grow as an individual and a soccer player.”

With a full a season under her belt at the helm, Carvalho networked with other student-athletes from across the country and discussed her experiences, while hearing about their experiences and how they had handled certain situations.

“The opportunity to interact with and learn from other student-athletes, coaches, and conference representatives was an invaluable one,” Carvalho said. “The entire weekend is geared toward developing your personal leadership philosophy and learning how to implement it on your teams, on your campuses, and in your life as a whole.”

Since the conference, Carvalho has been incorporating some of her takeaways into her leadership in the off-season. She said one of the biggest focuses of the weekend was the
importance of understanding team dynamics and effectively managing and communicating with all members of your team to better meet their needs.

“One thing we have struggled with in the past is maintaining the same amount of motivation and chemistry we have during the regular season throughout the off-season. Since returning from the conference, I have found better ways to motivate my teammates and keep us working together as a team toward our goals moving forward.”

Prior to coming to Norwich, Carvalho didn’t think she was cut out for any real leadership positions, but since being here she has learned there are multiple ways to lead. A health sciences major, she carries a 3.56 GPA and is a staff sergeant in the Corps of Cadets.

“I was not one of those outgoing, charismatic leaders that could get anyone to follow them, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to be that kind of leader,” Carvalho said. “While at Norwich I’ve learned that consistency, communication, and accountability can be equally valuable tools. Norwich has forced me out of my comfort zone, while also teaching me that there is no one perfect leadership style.”

Carvalho said one of her biggest takeaways from the conference was the notion of leading from where you are. “Sometimes you need to lead from the front and sometimes you need to lead from the back. But no matter the situation, you should aim to be the best leader for what your people need in that situation.”

Carvalho will return next fall for the Cadets as they look to get back to the GNAC postseason for the first time since 2011. – D.D.

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