It was a no-brainer for me to apply for the Game Changing Retreat after my brother attended the inaugural retreat last year. I remember picking him up from the airport, and throughout the 45 minute trip home, he could not stop talking about all the amazing things he learned and experienced during it . He was so hyped about his experience and so elated to share it with me. He kept saying, “Morgan, you HAVE to go next year!” After hearing and seeing his excitement, I knew I wanted to be a part of something this special.
On my way to the retreat hotel, I could feel the nerves starting to build. I was getting anxious to meet all of my fellow cohort members. I was not sure if we were all going to click or if it would be awkward, but as soon as I meet the first group of people all of my nerves went away. Every single person was so warm and welcoming. After less than an hour of knowing each other you would have never known we had all just met that day. After that, I knew the weekend was going to be amazing.
We arrived at the house for the first time, and we were welcomed with open arms by some of the “OG” cohort members and Corinne. Everyone was so excited the weekend was finally beginning, and it was so incredible to be around so many passionate people. By now, all of my nerves were gone, and I was ready to learn as much as possible during this retreat.
Every single thing we did had a purpose. We didn’t do a single thing just to “fill time” or “to have something to do.” With just four days, it was apparent that Maria and Corinne only wanted us to learn from the best. From the presentations, site visits, golf lesson, and Dinners of Influence, every single event had a purpose. Their effort showed that this wasn’t just a cookie cutter event. They hand-picked everything we did based on the dreams and desires of all 16 cohort members. If that doesn’t show you how much they care and want us to succeed, I don’t know what will.
The thing I loved and cherished most about the retreat was that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, wanted the best for everybody around them. I’ve never met more selfless and genuine people in my entire life. It truly blew my mind how much people wanted a complete stranger to succeed and that meant so much to me. In a world where there is so much hate, it is incredibly refreshing to know that good people still exist. This was very evident throughout the entire retreat but especially at the Dinners of Influence.
Going into the Dinners of Influence, I was both nervous and excited to be around so many successful women and minorities in the sports industry. It’s one thing to be told you can do something, but it’s completely different to see someone that looks like you in the position you aspire to be in one day. It’s humbling, intimidating, and encouraging all at the same time. I thought it was going to be an opportunity to learn about their journey and hear their stories on what they had to overcome to get where there are today, but it was that and so much more. Our dinner guests truly wanted to help us and learn more about us. They inquired about our goals and went out of their way to connect us with people they believed could help us reach our goals, the ultimate assist. I never thought they would be so willing and excited to help someone else, especially being in the position they are in.
My mentor, Dr. Julie Shaw, was amazing. Before we even arrived at the retreat, I knew she was a good one. She was so helpful and wanted to help each of us in every way she could. It was great having her in my corner, especially during the Dinners of Influence. She controlled the flow of conversation to help us get as much out of the dinner as possible. I know she is someone that I can go to throughout my journey, and she will always be available for advice. I’m eager to continue building our relationship for years to come.
In a weekend full of learning experiences, I would say the most important thing I learned was to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I heard this saying from different people during the weekend. Even if someone didn’t specifically say this phrase, I know that they had to be comfortable with being uncomfortable from listening to their journey. We all like to be comfortable and take the safe route, but if we want to achieve our dreams, we have to step out of our comfort zone and do things that are going to make us stand out from the pack. No matter how uncomfortable it might make us feel, it will all be worth it in the end.
I thought I knew what I was going to get out of this retreat. I thought I was going to walk away from it with a great deal of knowledge, some amazing connections, and a few new friends. Not only did I walk away with an insane amount of knowledge, I walked away with a new found confidence that I am exactly where I should be, and I am going to achieve my goals. I am going to be great at what I do. I also walked away with 15 new brothers and sisters that I know will have my back throughout this entire journey and I will have theirs, forever.
Morgan is a recent graduate of Auburn University, where she received her master’s degree in Hospitality Management. She just began working with the Colonnade Group as the Director of Gamecock Suites at Jacksonville State University.
Dr. Julie Shaw was her retreat mentor!