Associate Director for Programs – Recreational Sports
Strategic – Adaptability – Activator – Relator – Self-Assurance
Lance was the recipient of the 2018-2019 Supervisor of the Year Staff Award. Lance’s nominator had the following to say:
One thing is for certain: you’re pretty passionate about being a Dawg. Are you from Georgia? Did you go to school at UGA?
I am originally from Texas. I grew up in West Texas and it has a special place in my heart. All it takes is the smell of the outdoors there and the nostalgia will kick in to remind me days spent outside with family.
While I did not go to school here, it’s been easy for me to “buy-in” and become a part of Bulldog nation at UGA. I went to Texas A&M University where I spent my time as a climbing and rafting guide while I worked on my Parks, Recreation, and Tourism degree. After I graduated, I went to Clemson University where I received my masters in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
Sounds like the outdoors have been quite a big factor in your life. What led you to student affairs?
As an undergrad, I benefited from the work the staff put into our development as students. Most university recreational sports departments are a part of student affairs divisions, so even if you are in a “non-traditional” student affairs program or educational path, your work will still call you to student affairs work. I think there is a lot of opportunity to be a part of the growth and development of others through the services provided by outdoor recreation and recreational sports departments. People can connect their learning inside the classroom to the outdoors, make friends through club sports, or even achieve personal health goals- it’s a great way to make an impact in the lives of others.
Do you have a particular memory or moment when you felt “this is ‘it’…this is my ‘calling’”?
Yes–when I worked at the University of Alabama after I finished graduate school. In 2011, there had been a series of natural disasters where tornadoes had torn through Tuscaloosa. In Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama takes up a lot of the town. As a result, the university and the staff were all called upon to help provide support in some way as the town recovered. We immediately had to go into “crisis-management mode” and I called upon a lot of my “life training” being in the wilderness and backcountry. Recreational sports was asked to help serve as a triage center to house those displaced, so we needed to provide people shelter from the storms and help triage various medical needs they had. We all banded together as a staff and adapted to what needed to be done to help the town recover. It was a perfect mesh of my outdoor education and assisting an institution in fulfilling its role of serving the community.
Congratulations on winning the Supervisor of the Year Award! Were you surprised when your name was called?
Yes! Absolutely, yes. It’s one of those things where you think you are doing all that you can [as a supervisor] while also hoping that it’s helping [others]. Whether it’s to help create a space for staff to thrive or perhaps those times when we need to have tough conversations – being a supervisor is one of those jobs that you can always improve on. It’s nice to know someone appreciates what you’re doing enough to nominate you for an award.
Is there anything you would like to share about your supervision or leadership philosophy?
I enjoy reading articles or listening to podcasts about leadership and supervision–whatever I can do to keep improving. I even keep files of cutouts, articles, or even sticky notes that have quotes about leadership, motivation, or just leading from the heart. I like to revisit them every now and then to re-center myself around what kind of supervisor I want to be. I think that’s something that can be tiring for some—the thought that maybe we aren’t going to be able to do it right every time. Being a supervisor is always a path of improvement. For me, that desire to keep going and honing my, and my staff’s abilities, is where I feel my passions lie.
Self-awareness is pretty important, too. I need to know and be aware that I have that kind of viewpoint [towards constantly improving] and to notice when that approach or perspective might not always sit well. Everyone has “off days,” so feeling outside of my own [viewpoint] and taking on the perspectives of others really helps me in my work.
If someone wanted to partner with you, what would they reach out to you about?
Our office has a lot of versatility in how we can be a part of the memories made by others. We can help with team building by facilitating a challenge course for you and your newly elected student leaders, or do a “one-time” program where students learn how to kayak out at Lake Herrick. We are in the business of making, and help others make, memories.
My main goal is for our staff to provide experiences for students and community members to have something to look back on fondly. Our hope is to be a part of those memories so that students can remember events like RamseyPalooza or playing in the flag football intramural championships in Sanford Stadium. It’s the “I made all these friends on the rugby or ultimate Frisbee club or took a Zumba class 20 years ago and these are the people that are a part of my support system”-kind of moments and memories.
If you had one word or sentence to describe your experience here, what would it be?
I would say “improvement.” They say “iron sharpens iron” and I would say that I am continually honing my craft while simultaneously using it, dulling it, and refining it. I’m constantly evolving how I work as a leader on my team to best support those around me.
Any advice for newer staff or things that you’d like to share?
It’s hard, but try to respect and/or trust the process. You’re only new at a workplace once. Yeah, you might move to another department or area in the institution, but don’t rob yourself of the curiosity that a new person can bring. Be comfortable with the idea that you are not going to know everything on the first day. Trust that you were hired for a reason. Trust in those that saw greatness within you and their faith that you are able to do the job you are asked. I try to reflect on one thing I love or “get to have” about my job whenever I can. I recommend it because it gives you the space to appreciate the richness that you have added to the lives of others.
What’s the coolest thing you have ever done and why?
My default answer will always be getting to be a husband and dad. That’s hard to beat, but I also understand that those reading this might want something else as well [laughs]. The postcards for the National Parks around my office are from helping lead an ecology and geography expedition throughout the U.S. with faculty and staff across the country. Students were able to gain 16 hours of course credit to participate in hands-on fieldwork learning directly about their field of study, and I got to be their field guide as we went around to different National Parks. I helped facilitate various activities to help connect their learning to their personal development, ranging from trip logistics to outdoor safety skills like hiking safety.
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Staff Spotlights: Sharing the stories of staff in UGA Student Affairs
408 Memorial Hall
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Student Affairs Staff Development Lead
Chief of Staff