Created in 1987 to honor the academic and athletic achievements of student-athletes who have made significant contributions to their schools and communities, National Student-Athlete Day is celebrated annually on April 6. We consider that a great start, but decided to honor student-athletes for the entire month of April.
We recently caught up with two Commerce School alumni who served as team leaders in their chosen sports as students at UVA: Scott Headd (McIntire ’05, Darden ’12), as baseball captain, and Jenny Rosen (McIntire ’02), as volleyball captain.
Headd has been with J.P. Morgan for more than eight years, having held the role of Executive Director since 2018. He says that his experiences on the field taught him how to persevere when dealing with difficult situations, to take advantage of opportunities, and to maintain a positive attitude.
“I learned to focus on that which I could control—my effort, how and with whom I spent time, how I responded to adversity, how I treated others—and to not waste energy on that which I could not control,” he says.
Rosen co-founded Provident Team Real Estate with her husband a decade ago, and is a Realtor for her company that manages residential and commercial properties in multiple states and provides real estate services in Northern Virginia. She believes that her time as a student-athlete helped her to transition into professional life by understanding how to meet disparate and simultaneous demands while guiding teams to work cohesively toward reaching their objectives.
“Athletics, especially on this level, teaches you that the goals of the whole are attainable only with the individual contributions of its members. Every individual plays his or her own, important part,” Rosen says, drawing a parallel to business roles necessary for success.
“This really hit home for me in my first year, when I was red-shirted due to an injury. I was still expected to play my part, even though I could not play on the court in games. My contribution, although small, was still necessary as a member of the team,” she recalls, stressing how those types of team-first efforts in professional situations stress the importance of valuing all team members’ contributions to overall productivity.
Rosen says she felt driven to prove herself both on the volleyball court and in the classroom; she was determined not to let anyone think she hadn’t earned her way to UVA.
“I wanted to prove to everyone, including myself, that I belonged there, and thus, I chartered a path that required me to work harder and longer than most,” she says.
She recalls her time as one of the last two players awake, studying on overnight bus trips with a teammate who was in the Comm School, that sparked her interest in pursuing a B.S. in Commerce herself. “She was a year older, and I was inspired to apply for McIntire after watching her on many trips working late nights to complete her assignments. Call me crazy, but her level of effort and dedication made me want to follow in her footsteps.”
The result gained her entry to McIntire while she was competing in Division I athletics and staying on top of what she calls “a grueling training and competition schedule.”
For Headd, with the demands placed on his schedule by travel, practice, games, conditioning, and more, he learned to quickly adapt to the requirements of faculty and the calendars of his classmates. “Proactively communicating with and engendering the support of both were vital to my educational experience,” he says.
As both had time as varsity team leaders, there are lessons from those experiences that have had a positive bearing on their professional lives.
As captain of the UVA baseball team, Headd says he learned that while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership, forming individual connections with each teammate fosters trust and productive long-term relationships.
“Successful leaders empower those around them, setting an example and investing in the growth and development of each person to help the individual and team realize its potential,” he says.
Rosen says that, for her, the greatest lesson taken from having a position of authority is maintaining a focus on the team, not the individual.
“Leadership is about meeting others where they are and doing what you can to help them reach their goals. When individuals feel heard and understood, they are able to perform at their greatest potential. When everyone feels a sense of belonging and purpose, great things can happen,” she says.
The Lifelong Benefits of a Sporting Past
Rosen doesn’t hold back when it comes to her affinity for the University and will freely say as much.
“UVA holds a special place in my heart. It truly was the best four years I could have ever asked for,” she says, crediting her engagement across Grounds with making her who she is today. She gleefully cites her involvement in Division I athletics—complete with two NCAA tournament trips; serving as a liaison with the Athletic Department with the Honor Committee; her time as a sorority sister; and studying at McIntire as highlights.
She credits the high caliber of mentorship with helping her make her way through her third and fourth years. “The three people who stand out to me were Professor Tom Bateman, for his way of making us all laugh through the mess of life; Professor Adelaide King, for her unending support of me and who continues today to be a source of strength and inspiration; and [former Commerce School] Dean Carl Zeithaml, for always creating a space of acceptance, support, and undying care for all who walk through the doors of McIntire,” she says.
Headd also says his student experience was defined by the people he met along the way and whom he considers fortunate to know.
“Classmates, teammates, professors, coaches, alumni, and members of the community invested in my success, and for that, I am grateful,” He recalls a Networking course led by former Commerce Professor Rob Cross that was particularly meaningful.
“He encouraged me to study my team to better understand the dynamic between individual and groups of players. It was a dynamic project with real-time implications that fostered my passion for building high-performing teams,” says Headd. He also says his time with Professor Lucien Bass was particularly important to him, remembering warmly when Bass received the IMP Faculty Award.
A memory that stays with Rosen came at the end of her third year. It concerns the founding of MYAC (McIntire Young Alumni Council), an organization created to help students maintain a connection to McIntire after graduation.
“My fourth-year goal was to get 100% of the students to donate to McIntire in order to establish a tradition of giving back,” she says, remembering a conversation she had with Zeithaml about her plan. Enthusiastic about her initiative, he offered to throw an end-of-the-year party at his house for the class if they could hit their lofty target.
“After a year of pushing hard, we met our goal and had a fantastic party at his home,” Rosen says, recalling the honor of being invited for the occasion. “I’ll never forget that celebration and how proud I was of our accomplishment as a team.”