Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Many people believe the only way a person can motivate and get the best out of their counterparts is through vocal leadership. However, for junior distance runner Rebeka Stowe, leading by example is something that she lives her life by on the track, in school and in the community. Stowe feels that she is able to get the most out of her teammates by not only leading but also by getting to know her teammates on a personal level.
"I like to make personal relationships with the people on my team," Stowe said. "I feel that if you do not know the people you are working with, then you cannot lead them. I try to lead by example and work hard in practice everyday. I believe it is a mentality, and I approach every practice and race with the idea that I am going to give it my all."
The Olathe, Kan., native knows what it takes to be successful. Although not nationally recruited, Stowe persevered through the ups and downs of her freshman year in 2008. Her hard work did not go unnoticed and University of Kansas coach Michael Whittlesey felt that Stowe made great strides from her freshman year to her junior year.
"She is a very strong leader and is one of the hardest workers out there," Whittlesey said. "Rebeka is very motivated for the team's success as well as her individual success. She always steps up and encourages people in practice and certainly during the meets."
Stowe has received numerous accolades, but believes that success is not based on how yourplace in a meet or how you perform. Rather, she believes success is based on improving everyday in your sport as well as in the classroom.
"She is very passionate and has made a lot of strides during her time at Kansas," Whittlesey said. "Running is very important to her and she takes her races very seriously and competes at a high level."
Stowe believes as a leader she needs to be consistent in everything she does and approaches school with the same mentality she does on the track. Stowe, a secondary math education major, was named to the 2010 Academic All-Big 12 Team and attributes her success in the classroom and on the track to her mother.
"My mom always ran and I would always go to the track with her," Stowe said. "I would watch her run and it inspired me to run track. My mom has always stressed the importance of school and made sure that I realized that school is just as important as athletics."
"She wanted me to realize that running could be taken away at any point, but you will always have school. I have made school a priority in my life. I am very competitive and want to push for the best grades I can."
Whittlesey feels that Stowe is not only an example for others on the track and in the classroom, but is a great leader in her community. Stowe, like many other KU student-athletes, makes a point to give back to the community as often as they can.
"I try to be involved as much as I can in the community," she said. "This winter break we took a trip to the homeless shelter, fed and hung out with the people at the shelter. I feel that any time I can give back to the community and influence another person, that is important.
"It helps you understand how blessed you are and how much you have been given. It keeps you in check and shows you how great of an opportunity you have to compete at such a high level."
Stowe is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), where she serves on the executive board. SAAC is a committee made up of KU student-athletes who are responsible for providing views on their experience, rules and regulations that affect student-athletes' lives on KU's campus. SAAC also gets involved and gives back to its community. Stowe feels that her involvement and leadership in SAAC has transferred over in track.
"I love being a part of SAAC here at Kansas. I have been able to go to a couple of different leadership events and it has helped me learn more about myself as leader. It was fun because you are not just giving back to the community, but you get to know people in different sports and it enhances the family and community feel in the athletic department."
Although the 2011 track and field season is nearing an end, Stowe is selfless in her want to lead and motivate her teammates. She desires to make sure that her teammates are successful in whatever they set their minds to.
"I want them to be able to count on me in every aspect of their lives. I have enjoyed all of the different relationships I have made with my teammates and coaches. I truly care about my teammates and want to see them successful when competing and when they are done with their sport."
Even though you might not hear Stowe vocally leading her teammates, she is the one leading by example. She makes sure to give her all and inspire her teammates to be successful. In turn, Stowe is flourishing both on and off the track herself.