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Today’s Champions Tomorrow’s Leaders

You would usually expect to see these athletes dominating the field, or the court – but this group of athletes is part of a different team.

“Student athlete leadership team is where a bunch of people who are considered leaders in the athletic department come together and learn how to be a leader, and exercise leadership in the Metea community,” said Emily Forsyth a member of the SALT group.

SALT, recognizes the platform athletes have and encourages them to set a positive example for not only the school but the community as well.

Athletic Director, Dan Debruycker started the program in other schools and when he saw the results knew he had to bring it to the Mustangs.

“I don’t know fully what the culture is here, I’ve only been here a couple of months and I don’t need to know what it is, but I know that every culture can improve and that’s what this program is about,” said Debruycker.

The group meets every two weeks to discuss how they can work together and make an impact in the community.

But on this day, professional football player for the Buccaneers, Garrett Gilkey, shares what he’s learned about being a positive force in the pro-athlete world.

“Success is fleeting, material things are fleeting and the importance and value of impacting someone’s life using our experience and our platform to impact somebody else,” said Gilkey.

Gilkey was raised in nearby Lemont, and as he grew to be a staggering 6’6” his mom always instilled in him the importance of being a gentle giant.

“He was always someone people were drawn to, so he’s always had good leadership skills, he was a little nerdy kid in school so it has been really exciting to watch him grow into a leader,” said Catherine Gilkey.

Gilkey’s message of staying grounded and humble resonated with the young athletes.

“He was able to just speak to us in a different way, than really anybody else has, he’s an athlete, too so it was able to connect with a lot of people in the room, he just had more of an impact than other speakers I’ve seen in the past,” said Forsyth.

In a world where professional athletes are often portrayed in a negative light, the salt program hopes to rewrite the playbook.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.


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