November 4, 2012

Jeanne Swanner Robertson Speaks at Leadership Forum

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Greensboro, N.C. – Former Miss North Carolina and humorist Jeanne Swanner Robertson addressed Guilford College student-athletes Sunday night in the Ragan-Brown Field House on campus. Robertson was the second of four speakers lined up in Guilford’s new Athletics Leadership forum.

Standing over six feet tall, Swanner is a former high school basketball player, who attended Auburn University and was crowned Miss North Carolina in 1963. Although she rarely speaks to younger crowds, she did have an important piece of advice. In order to be an excellent leader, she said to “make it a priority to find the humor around you every day.” Swanner related a story about her husband Jerry, whom she tenderly calls “Left-brain”, when he went to the grocery store and bought more products than needed because he multiplied the items on his wife’s numbered list because he thought the numbers represented the quantity needed.

This story led her to her next lesson about accepting things that cannot be changed. She discussed how at age 13 she found her sense of humor when it was difficult for her tall frame to jump rope with her much shorter sisters. She decided to use her height as an advantage in basketball. She further discussed it wasn’t just accepting things that cannot be changed in oneself, but in other people, such as teammates, colleagues, or even a spouse. Swanner ended the discussion saying if humor can be found among people who have different ways of thinking then goals can be accomplished.

The Guilford Athletics Leadership Forum is the brainchild of Guilford Athletics Hall of Famer and former college basketball coach Dave Odom ‘65. Modeled after the school’s successful Bryan Series that has attracted world leaders to Greensboro since 2002, Odom hopes to provide Guilford student-athletes instruction and encouragement from notable figures, especially those with ties to athletics. He started with his personal contacts to find speakers who are passionate about today’s youth and willing to spend some time at Guilford.  The speakers focus on the value of leadership, decision-making, overcoming adversity, and education.

The next forum will be held in January with basketball star Nancy Lieberman as the guest speaker. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas opened the series in September. Former Wake Forest head football coach and current NFL assistant Jim Caldwell closes this year’s forum in the spring.