CSL Daily

November 26, 2013

Alumni Profile-Justin Jannuzzi

by Josh Lawrence, CSL Graduate Student

Not long after he enrolled at the Center for Sport Leadership in 2006, Justin Jannuzzi was drawn to development.

“Development fits me because I’m passionate about raising funds to support and improve our student athletes collegiate experience and love building long last relationships with people.”jannuzzi

Jannuzzi is currently the Associate Director of Iron Dukes Major Gifts at Duke University. As shown by the jobs he has held during his career, he is quite aware of the importance of development and the role it plays in collegiate athletics.

After playing football and graduating from Wabash College, Jannuzzi earned his Master’s degree from the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University. His first development job was at North Carolina State. He then returned to VCU as the Assistant Director of Ticketing and Donor Relations for VCU Athletics. After two years, he was hired as the Director of the Big Blue Club at Old Dominion University. This fall, Jannuzzi left ODU for his current role at Duke.

At the CSL, Jannuuzzi’s says he learned the value of building relationships. It’s a critical component in development and one he believes can help him reach his ultimate goal of becoming an athletic director.

“I understand that there is much to learn and many challenges to face along the way. Instead of shying away, I genuinely look forward to the steep climb to the top. My hope is that if I am fortunate enough to reach my ambition, those who I manage will look up to me as I will have been in there similar shoes at one point. By not skipping steps towards success, you will build off valuable experiences that will only benefit you as a leader, no matter what style of leader you are. Natural leaders tend more to have been there and done that, and are not scared to get their own hands dirty to get the job done.”

Jannuzzi has been fortunate to work with some amazing leaders in college athletics and has learned from each of them. One common trait they all displayed is being confident in who they are.

“Some leaders are more vocal and some lead more by example. However, both types of leadership are equally as important and effective. If you are confident in your own abilities you will be a more natural leader.”

One of the biggest pieces of advice he would give CSL students is to not take shortcuts towards success. He conveyed the importance of pursuing career opportunities that will allow learning and responsibility instead of just going through the motions.
“You will build off those type of experiences on your climb to the top of your career. Also, be patient, humble, hardworking and truly enjoy being a part of a team.”

When asked what influence the CSL has had on his career, Jannuzzi replied, “CSL has been a major influence on my career. It opened the door for me to work in the industry I love. I’m very proud and grateful to be a CSL alum. I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without graduating from the CSL.”

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November 20, 2013

Leading When You’re Losing

by Greg Burton

“The fall from grace is steep and swift, and when you land, it does not make a sound, because you are alone.
A poem by Cari Williams, 1995

Robert Griffin III hears you, Ms Williams. The Redskins second year quarterback is robert-griffin-thick-skinstruggling this season, struggling with on-field execution, off-field expectations and locker room relationships. Put yourself in RG3’s cleats. What would you do? I’ve been giving that a lot of thought.

A year ago, RG3 set the NFL on fire with a dazzling skill set that helped his team win seven games in a row en route to an NFC East Division Title. His #10 jersey became the best-selling of all time for the NFL. His rigorous, off-season rehabilitation from knee surgery was documented and produced into a one-hour ESPN special.

Today, he is the target of criticism from fans, media, former players & most disturbing, his teammates.  On Sunday, Griffin threw a game-ending interception in the end zone, denying the Redskins a chance to tie the game and complete a furious comeback from a 24-0 deficit. Instead, the Redskins dropped to 3-7 on the year. Criticism from fans and media is expected when losses pile up. However, when it comes from revered members of the RG3 2Redskins family, there is reason for concern. Two legendary Redskins and Hall of Fame players have questioned RG3’s ability and leadership.  Darrell Green said on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”: “I don’t think he really is the leader (of this team).”  Sonny Jurgensen suggested during the team’s radio broadcast Sunday that RG3 should be benched.

The most damaging blow came Tuesday night when a teammate, Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss, said Griffin needs to take more accountability when the Redskins lose.
“If we’re going to win games, we need to win games with our guy saying, ‘At the end of the day, I didn’t make a play,’ regardless of if it wasn’t him.”
Moss continued, “As a leader, when you know you’re a leader you don’t have to tell people that you’re a leader, one. Two, as a leader, you understand that if you’re involved in the situation, whether you’re the receiver, the quarterback, the guys making the tackle, whoever — regardless of the outcome, good or bad, you have to at some point, stand up and say me or I.”

I read all those comments and thought: are these guys showing RG3 how to be a leader? I know how the media works. You have to be outspoken, provocative and opinionated. Green and Jurgensen’s comments, in the context in which they were presented, don’t surprise me but I wonder if they have tried to talked to RG3 instead of putting him on blast.

I agree with everything Moss said but not with the platform he chose to say it. If Moss wants to see more leadership from Griffin, how is crushing him on the radio going to inspire RG3 to lead more effectively. In the same interview, Moss admitted he didn’t like when another teammate took Griffin to task in an interview.

I am not defending Griffin. I think his recent on-field body language and histrionics illustrate his struggle. The once charming and media-savvy QB has been defensive and, at times, RG3petulant with reporters. He knows he is not performing and I would bet he knows he isn’t acting like a leader. By default, the quarterback on any team is a leader. Griffin was looked to and assumed more leadership responsibilities than most rookies last year when the Skins started winning. Now, with the Skins losing, his leadership is being tested and questioned.

One of our core values at the CSL is to be accountable. We list it first because it’s often the first step in navigating a difficult situation or adversity. Acknowledge your shortcomings and commit to improve.  I have watched, listened to or read recaps of every RG3 press conference since training camp. Most times, he takes the direct blame for a loss or poor performance but his explanations can sometimes cloud the accountability he is trying to display. He needs to show more brevity.

Griffin also needs to rediscover the charisma that endeared him to so many football fans, not just Redskins fans. Positivity is sparse in a seven game losing streak but the ability to Robert Griffin IIIdisplay a positive attitude during the down cycle is critical to maintaining effective leadership.

Of all the leaders I look to for inspiration and guidance, each one has faced criticism, resistance, negativity or failure. In fact, their leadership legacy was largely defined by overcoming it. If Robert Griffin III is destined for a successful NFL career, he must adjust his leadership style on the fly, like changing a play at the line of scrimmage. The way he led last season won’t help him now.  It’s easy to lead when you win. In my opinion, a true leader in sport is defined by his ability to drive a team through the mounting defeats, managing their eroding confidence and steering them towards hope.  RG3 still has time to call the right play and usher the Redskins back to success.

Greg Burton is an affiliate faculty member for the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU. He is also a sportscaster with more than 20 years experience. Greg currently hosts a daily sport talk radio show in Richmond on ESPN 950. You can reach him at 7 follow him on Twitter at @hardlyworkin950 


November 19, 2013

Alumni Profile-Jamie Corti

by Kelsey Kearney, CSL Graduate Student

For someone who four years ago was pursuing a career in elementary education, Jamie 9123126Corti has certainly climbed the collegiate coaching ranks quickly. As the assistant women’s soccer coach for the University of Central Florida Knights, she gets the opportunity to see elite level soccer on a daily basis. However, when you coach one of the best teams in the country, it typically comes with the territory.

In the summer of 2009, Corti had just graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, following a brilliant four-year career on the women’s soccer team.  She was attempting to put her bachelor’s degree to use by applying for teaching position all throughout North Carolina.

“I thought I had found my path. Going back to school was not at all on my radar,” Corti said.  Neither was coaching, until former coach and now mentor Siri Mullinix approached her about a Graduate Assistant position at VCU. In what she refers to as “an opportunity impossible to refuse”, Corti enrolled in the Center for Sport Leadership, the springboard for her coaching career path.

tim, tiff & jamie

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak (left), Tim Sahaydak & Jamie Corti

The CSL would end up having a direct influence on Corti becoming a Division I college coach. During her time in the program, she had the opportunity to work alongside Tim and Tiffany Sahaydak, then the co-head coaches of VCU women’s soccer.  In a role that allowed her to get a behind the scenes look at college coaching, Corti felt extremely fortunate to have been able to learn from two very experienced coaches. Corti’s hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed.

After graduating from the CSL in December 2010, Corti was given the exciting opportunity to return to her UNC Greensboro, as an assistant coach for the women’s soccer team.  Corti doesn’t believe she would have been hired if it were not for the experience she earned through the CSL.

“Being a graduate assistant, my role was limited, therefore it allowed me to take a few things about my job and really make them my own. That experience (at the CSL), combined with the in-classroom discussions, presentations, and networking, gave me the confidence to take on the position with full force.”

A year and a half after returning to UNC Greensboro, Tim and Tiff Sahaydak had an Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 2.06.33 PMopening on their staff at VCU and called Corti. After being asked about why she might have been there first call, Corti said, “I think they valued the fact that I went out and got experience with a different coaching staff, in a different environment, but they also already appreciated it some of the qualities I possessed before.  For that reason, CSL has had a large part in where I am today, it put me in the right place with the right people with the tools to make the most of it.”

Corti returned to VCU, this time as a full time assistant coach. After one season in Richmond, where the Rams made their way to the conference tournament championship game, Tiffany Roberts Sayahdak was hired to be the head coach the University of Central Florida. She asked Corti to join her as an assistant and Corti gladly accepted the opportunity to work at one of the best women’s soccer programs in the country.

UCF, with Corti on staff, won the regular season and conference championship title before an earlier than expected exit from the NCAA Tournament last weekend.  When asked about her quick ascension and success, Corti is incredibly humble, attributing it to the mentors and coaches she has met along the way.

“To me, networking is much more than getting my face or name out there to as many people as possible, it’s about making a connection and making an impression. Its quality over quantity; making one good impression can go further than meeting a room full of people.”

This was a lesson she learned from her time at CSL.
“If I could sum up the Center for Sport Leadership into one word, it would be network. It’s a word that was preached and practiced on a daily basis and it means something different to anyone you ask. The Center for Sport Leadership gave us a platform to meet quality individuals in all facets of sports. It was then up to us to make the most of those opportunities.”