In the sports world, leadership plays an important role in all categories. Being a leader is important not only during a game, but also when there is no one watching. Coaches and team captains need a variety of skills to lead a successful team, and leadership skills are near the top on the list of importance.
For senior sports business strategy major Laiying Alvarado, leadership is all about forming connections and building trust with one’s followers. “People want to follow others who make them feel comfortable and will lead them to success,” said Laiying. “I’m the captain on the [women’s tennis] team and it’s a huge responsibility. I care for everyone on the team. It’s about picking the right time to communicate with [them].” Building that shared vision of success through trust helps everyone on the team see the bigger picture and get them to the end goal.
Laiying is the most decorated all-conference player in UF women’s tennis history, earning G-MAC Freshman of the Year in 2019 and G-MAC Player of the Year last season, as well as leading her team to the conference tournament and the number one doubles seed. Her hard work and dedication to her craft also led her to receiving the Mancuso Award, UF’s Athletic Department’s most distinguished award. The award brings distinction and honor to the top female and male athlete each year while encompassing factors such as academic achievement, contribution to the university and community, sportsmanship, integrity and humility, and athletic ability. Along with her athletic achievements, Laiying is a repeat honoree on the Dean’s List, and has given her time and talents to many areas of campus and the community. “I would argue there isn’t an athlete on our campus that bleeds Black and Orange more than her,” said University of Findlay’s assistant athletic director Kyle Niermann.
It was in Barquisimeto in Venezuela, her home country, where Laiying fell in love with sports, specifically tennis and baseball. “All of my aunts and uncles play tennis, and one of them actually owns a tennis academy,” she said. “You could say tennis is a family business.” Being from Venezuela, she wants to be an inspiration to others. “Baseball is huge in Venezuela and I’m a fan of Miguel Cabrera [who is from Venezuela], and seeing him get his 3,000th hit meant a lot to me. I hope to be an inspiration to others [and show] that it’s possible to achieve their goals.”
After graduation, Laiying hopes to continue her passion for sports and work on the business side of professional baseball. The leadership skills she has learned here at UF and on the Russ & Peg Armstrong Sports Complex tennis courts have set her up for success. One thing is for certain: Wherever she ends up, she has the Oiler Nation community supporting her.