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By: Megan Nash

Meet Carrie LeCrom, the dynamic Executive Director of the VCU Center for Sport Leadership (CSL), whose innovative initiatives have propelled the program to a global platform. Passionate about leveraging sport for social change, she’s not just a distinguished scholar, but also a driven force behind impactful sports diplomacy exchanges.

Let’s rock ‘n’ roll! We’re going to kick this off with some easy one’s …

Where would Google drop a pin to find you on campus?

We’re located in the Sports Medicine Building right next to the Siegel Center!

Where did you go to school, what did you major in?

I did my undergrad at Lynchburg College (now the University of Lynchburg), then a master’s and Ph.D. from VCU – go RAMS!

It’s pretty cool that you earned your master’s and Ph. D. from the very place you’re making so many changes …

Are there key accomplishments or milestones in your academic career that you’re particularly proud of?

I’m proud of so many things related to my career, and, most importantly, the Center for Sport Leadership. I can’t take full credit for everything we’ve accomplished as a Center; it’s a team effort!

Just to name a few: We are a top-10 ranked program in the world, we have a strong partnership with Real Madrid (one of the most recognizable brands in the world), we offer our students multiple international experiences each year and our faculty are incredible teachers and researchers. But, if I had to name ONE THING, I am most proud of the relationships we build with our students and sustain with our alumni. They are the reason we do what we’re doing and we are constantly focused on how we can give them a better experience and prepare them for the future of the industry. We care deeply about our students and try to show that each and every day, including continuing to support them in their career growth once they complete their degree.

In the 2023 SportBusiness rankings, we received a #1 ranking in career advancement, which is a direct result of responses from an alumni survey. That tells me we’re doing something right!

Can you share a memorable experience from your teaching career that had a significant impact on your approach to education?

My family and I spent all of 2019 living in Stellenbosch, South Africa, just outside of Cape Town. I was on a Fulbright Fellowship aimed at creating a sport for social change organization for girls in the rural community. Stellenbosch University was running other sport for social change organizations, but they were all for male youth, so I created their first female-focused program.

Working with 21 girls at a local high school, I created life and job readiness skills programs through the sport of soccer. It was a fantastic year all around, but it certainly taught me a lot about education and teaching. After just a few weeks of programming, I realized I needed to scrap everything I had planned and restart, making the education more engaging and interactive. I expected the girls to be fully ready to engage in deep conversations, but I had not yet earned their trust or respect, so of course they were hesitant to buy-in.

By recreating sessions that were much more interactive and fun, we were able to build trust slowly and gradually get to the hard stuff. It was a huge lesson for me as an educator and I’ve implemented that lesson into how I approach my courses here at the CSL. If we want to truly impact our students, we need to take time to build relationships and have a lot of fun while doing so!

I think my students now would tell you that I spend more time thinking about the activities I want to do in class than the content itself. It’s true!

I don’t doubt that your students appreciate that! Speaking of activities that you want to do, how about we switch gears to some lighter insights we can learn about you …

If you could swap jobs with someone in an entirely different field for a week, who would it be and why?

I’d love to be a chef. But one in a low stress environment (which I don’t think exists in the food industry). I’d just feed people for free.

In one-sentence, pitch a TED Talk that you would love to give some day.

Leadership is love. Always has been, always will be.

What never fails to make you smile?

Other people’s success, and my own to be honest. I love seeing people feel proud of what they’ve done and are doing.

Overheard at VCU Business

“Dr. LeCrom is a tremendous leader and colleague. She somehow keeps the Center’s objectives aspirational and maintains world-class standards while ensuring the focus is always on people and most importantly students. We have been able to accomplish amazing things during her tenure as Executive Director and I believe the future is even brighter.” 

– Brendan Dwyer, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Research & Distance Learning, Center for Sport Leadership

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