RCW: Born to Lead

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Some people become leaders over time; others are born to lead.
Kansas senior rower Angie Allen is definitely a natural-born leader. Whether it be on the water, in a Big 12 committee meeting or a foreign country, Allen has been and will continue to be a successful leader in whatever she sets her mind to.
Her hard-working nature stems from excelling as a multi-sport athlete in high school, competing in basketball, volleyball and track. Nixa High School in Nixa, Missouri served as the stage as Allen broke the school record for most aces in a single volleyball season and later was nominated as a McDonald’s All American for basketball during her senior season.
Allen’s familiarity with college athletics has been instilled in her from the start. Her father, Terry Allen, was a college football coach and coached the Kansas football team from 1997-2001.
From a young age Allen has been able to watch and learn from her father’s coaching experience. Allen knew what kind of leader she wanted to become from the way her father led his players and coaches.
“He showed me how to deal with leadership and not overstep any boundaries,” Allen said.
Both of Allen’s parents taught her about respecting others and treating others how they would want to be treated. Allen lives by this philosophy everyday.
Allen’s path to being a division I athlete was influenced by seeing her father work in college athletics and knowing that both of her brothers would someday play college football, her younger brother, Chase, is currently a tight end for Iowa State. Allen knew it was only a matter of time until she became a collegiate athlete herself and she set her sights on Kansas.
“I have always considered it home,” Allen said.
When KU approached her early in her senior year of high school, it was a done deal and Allen knew exactly where she wanted to spend her next four years.
“I looked at rowing,” Allen said. “It gave me the competitive atmosphere that I still wanted, the opportunity to have my education paid for and the chance to come to a fantastic school. It was everything that I wanted.”
Rowing intrigued Allen because it is the only sport in which every single team member must complete the exact same motion at the exact same time. From the outside, everything can look like it is running smoothly; however, that isn’t always the case.
“One little twist or movement can throw everything off and it can keep the team from losing instead of winning,” Allen said. “Rowing is truly the ultimate team sport.”
Allen has seen success on the water and in the classroom. Since her start here at Kansas, Allen has been a member of the varsity squad. This last season, she helped the Second Varsity Eight to a fifth-place finish at the 2017 Big 12 Championship.
Off the water, Allen also prides herself on academics, having been on the Academic All-Big 12 team since freshman year and has held a spot on the Athletic Director’s & Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Rolls for multiple years.
Allen hopes to use all the skills she has learned through being a student-athlete: hard work, dedication and perseverance, after graduation. She is ready to put her leadership skills to the test and conquer anything she sets her mind to.
“I like to think it gives me a little bit of an edge against competition for jobs later on,” she said.
Even though Allen has gained priceless skills from being a student-athlete, she doesn’t let that hold her back from taking advantage of the many opportunities offered at Kansas.
As if being a collegiate student-athlete wasn’t enough for Allen, she also finds time to serve as the Big 12 Chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and commits her summers to volunteering in Uganda.
Since Allen’s start at the University of Kansas four years ago, Tim Schlosser, Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Wellness and Leadership, has known no one different except the hard-working and influential person Allen has always been.
“She is absolutely extraordinary in not only her passion for Kansas Athletics and for her sport, but her genuine passion for students and being a part of leading them in the right direction,” Schlosser said.
As a sport management major, Allen wanted to get involved within the athletic department and she found the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to be the perfect organization she could pour herself into.
SAAC is a legislative body between the student-athletes, university athletic departments and the NCAA. The SAAC empowers student-athletes and gives them the voice they need to have the best student-athlete experience possible. The campus-wide SAAC builds a sense of community among the student-athletes, while the NCAA SAAC provides opportunity and promotes a positive image for the student-athletes.
One of the priorities of SAAC is providing extra resources for fellow student-athletes when they need them. Recently, with the three hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria many Jayhawk student-athletes and their families were affected by the storms.
The SAAC at KU has focused on collecting donations for those in need. During home football games this season, fans will be able to drop off donations at stations set up around Memorial Stadium.
Carrah Trimble, Senior Director of Student-Athlete Development and Leadership, nominated Allen, along with Kansas track & field hurdler Nick Giusti, to be KU’s representatives within the Big 12 Conference SAAC.
“I nominated Angie and Nick for those roles because of what I had seen from them already with SAAC and their involvement and desire to get to know more,” Trimble said. “I thought they would excel in every aspect and blow away all expectations.”
Allen is starting from scratch with being Big 12 Chair of the SAAC, and while still figuring out her role, she hasn’t skipped a beat. Allen works closely with David Flores, Big 12 assistant commissioner, setting up bi-weekly teleconferences with each of the Big 12 schools and their SAAC. As of right now, Allen is keeping busy with planning ahead for the NCAA January meetings to ensure that the Big 12’s voice is heard.
Allen will have the opportunity to travel to Chicago and represent the Big 12 as a whole at the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meetings. Currently, the NCAA SAAC has been working toward regulating early recruiting. Her responsibility will be to present the opinion of the Big 12 to the NCAA in order to pass new legislation.
Allen has taken on this opportunity with full force and is working to make a difference within the NCAA for student-athletes.
“She understands that true power is your ability to empower others to do great things,” Schlosser said. “She wants everyone to feel empowered to make a contribution and she really wants to make a difference.”
Allen will carry out her position with the Big 12 SAAC until next January when the next Big 12 Chair is elected at the annual SAAC meetings.
Helping student-athletes share their voice, mostly through SAAC, isn’t Allen’s only passion. She has also spent her summer vacations volunteering in Uganda for the last two years.
Allen traveled with the Propel Foundation, an organization set out to enrich communities with academics and well-being, to Uganda. While there, she dedicated her time educating children about sports. Allen joined Lawrence-area teachers on this journey to meet and share guidance with the local teachers in the farming community.
Allen dove right in to the program two years ago when she decided to travel to Uganda, not knowing exactly what she was getting herself into. She went with the foundation just as a helper, ready to serve and do whatever was needed of her.
This past summer, Allen took on more responsibility with Propel and went as a sport camp director. While the teachers were meeting with each other, Allen was supervising an entire classroom of elementary-aged kids.
“The language barrier was hard and they really don’t have equipment to go play baseball,” Allen said. “A lot of games would be something like Ultimate Frisbee because all you need is a Frisbee.”
Traveling to Uganda has greatly impacted Allen’s life. Although people are incredibly impoverished, she was able to see their happiness and how grateful they all were for life. Allen realized that many of the day-to-day problems she encounters at Kansas are insignificant compared to what these people face everyday.
“I never saw anyone upset. They all worked hard, never complained about anything,” she said. “Everyone was just genuinely happy.”
After graduation, Allen intends to intern with the Big 12. She has set herself up for nothing but success through all that she has accomplished with being a team leader for rowing, the student-athlete advisory committee and her experiences in Uganda.
Further down the road, Allen dreams of being a director of football operations for a collegiate team, it will be a challenge, but as Trimble said of Angie Allen, “The sky’s the limit for her.”