New club molds former athletes into coaches


Provided by Coaches to Leaders Club

Former Bengals Coach Jim McNally (center) spoke at the Coaches to Leaders club. Club Vice President Nick Pilcher (left) and President Aaron Luken (right) pictured with McNally.

Each year, millions of high school seniors end their sports career and move onto college where they focus on school and a future career. As a select few athletes get the opportunity to play college sports, most student athletes are left wishing they could still be a part of a team.

Aaron Luken, a former high school athlete and current junior at NKU, had a vision of bringing former athletes and coaching together to help high school athletic programs in need of coaches.

After approaching NKU’s coordinator of New Student Orientation, Jeff Iker, Luken began building his own team of students to help him build an organization now known as Coaches to Leaders.

“Coaches to Leaders was developed because of a love for athletics, and a belief that they are about more than wins and losses,” Luken said.

Coaches to Leaders, also known as C2L, was founded April 19, 2015. Since then, it has gained more than 20 members and has hosted multiple speakers from around campus and the community.

With 30 members and counting, Luken hopes to increase that number by reaching out to former student-athletes around campus who are interested in keeping up with sports.

“We believe that we have an incredible concept here and that a lot of students would be interested in, but they don’t exist,” Luken said. “What this organization is doing is unique, and there is nothing like it anywhere else.”

Luken, a baseball coach at Holy Cross High School, believes sports can build lifelong relationships and teach life lessons that go beyond the field of play. He said having strong leadership skills is crucial for coaching and he has seen strong leadership in all of his members.

“If you would have told me all that we’ve accomplished at this point when we started nine months ago, I would have said you were crazy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone for their unique contributions,” Luken said.

Coaches to Leaders already has a member that has accepted a coaching position at the college level through C2L’s Coaching Opportunities Initiative at Northern placement program.

Senior Caleb Miller, a sports business major with dreams of coaching at the professional level, recently joined the football coaching staff at the College of Mount Saint Joseph.

“Without Coaches to Leaders, I would have never had an opportunity to pursue my dreams of a coaching career,” Miller said.

Both Miller and Luken say that Coaches to Leaders is looking for potential members who love athletics and have the willingness to learn and lead. Students are welcome to join Coaches to Leaders whether they are athletic or not. Junior and executive board member Megan Krumpelman says she has developed strong leadership skills after joining Coaches to Leaders.

“C2L has offered me the opportunity to take on my first leadership position in college, and I’ve learned countless things that not only apply to leadership, but to life,” Krumpelman said.

Coaches to Leaders meets twice a month and periodically hosts guest speakers. Past speakers include former NFL coach Jim McNally and NKU Director of Athletics Ken Bothof.

Coaches to Leaders has also partnered with other clubs around campus including the Sports Business Club to collaborate and give students the opportunity to see the business side of sports including marketing and money management.

As the club is preparing to head into its second year of existence, Luken is excited about the future.

“I’m so proud of how much this organization has grown in such a short time, and our future is very bright,” Luken said. “We would be nowhere without the contributions of our members, our dedicated executive board, our faculty advisor Andy Espelage and everyone who has offered their advice and support along the way. Our future is bright, and this is only the beginning.”