Three Crusaders Earn "Leader of Distinction" Honors

WORCESTER, Mass. - Three members of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy have earned the designation of “Leader of Distinction.”  Seniors Melanie Forte (Milford, N.H.), Maura Fox (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and Mike Walker (Monson, Mass.) are the first-ever members of the academy to receive this prestigious honor.

Each of the three had their leadership abilities evaluated by their teammates and coaches through the Leadership 360 group of the academy. For a student-athlete to qualify for this award they have to earn their teammates' and coaches' utmost trust and respect by scoring 105 or above on the evaluation.

Forte serves as captain of the women’s track & field team and has earned first team All-Patriot League honors in her career.

“You can't ask for a better leader than Melanie Forte,” said head women’s track & field coach Egetta Alfonso.  “She's focused, driven and ready to put in her full effort at every practice and competition. She has a tireless commitment to getting not just the major things done but all the little (sometimes mundane) things done. She expects the same from her teammates and is vocal about those expectations. Her approach as a leader is very balanced - she knows how to praise and to give constructive criticism when either is warranted.” 

Fox is a two-year captain and four-year starter for the women’s soccer team.

“Maura has all the tools possessed by a great leader of people,” said head women’s soccer coach Darren Gallagher. “She has been able to lead by example on the field through performance and motivation and also off the field through encouragement, compassion and a clear understanding of respect. As a junior captain she learned a great deal about the joys, trials and tribulations of leadership and used these experiences to shape the accomplished senior captain she is today. She has certainly left an indelible imprint for the future of Holy Cross women's soccer.”

Walker is a two-year captain of the men’s rowing team, for which he has rowed as part of the varsity eight boat for three years.

“Mike is in his second year as captain of the team, which is a testament to how well he commands the respect of his teammates,” said head men’s rowing coach Todd Pearson. “Mike was a walk-on rower as a freshman at Holy Cross and earned his position as a leader on the team through his positive attitude and hard work.  I've seen the team dynamic improve dramatically over the last two seasons. The athletes are more upbeat, have a better focus in practice and competition and are more invested in the success of the team. Mike personally embodies all these characteristics and I think it is no surprise that the rest of the team has followed his lead.”

This is the second year of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, which includes nearly 120 student-athletes. The academy is comprised of the Emerging Leaders group – which features sophomores and juniors, the Veteran Leaders group – which features juniors and seniors who completed the Emerging Leaders program a year ago, and the Leadership 360 group – a small group of seniors who had completed the Veteran Leaders program last year and wished to undertake an vigorous evaluation of their leadership skills. Holy Cross head coaches also meet as a group as part of the Leadership Academy.

For more information about the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, visit the academy web page.