Elon Law announced former Major League Baseball coach Tony La Russa as the guest for this year's Distinguished Leadership Lecture series hosted at 6:30 p.m. on April 10 in Carolina Theatre. 

Presented by the Joseph M Bryan Foundations as a gift, the leadership series works to bring accomplished leaders from a variety of disciplines to Elon to share their experiences and perspectives with students and faculty. Previous speakers include author and co-host of The View Sunny Hostin, founder and CEO of Abrams Media Dan Abrams and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. 

Zachary Kramer, dean of the Elon Law school, said that this is his first time helping to organize the speaker series and that a lot of consideration goes into planning the event.

“I was interested in the kind of sports and entertainment side of things, because I think it's an industry that is multifaceted,” Kramer said. “I like the idea that legal education leads to all roads.”

Tony La Russa signed with the Oakland Athletics straight out of highschool, and for the majority of his 16 seasons, played in the minor leagues. During this time, La Russa enrolled to earn a Juris Doctor from Florida State University College of Law — graduating in 1978 and being admitted to the Florida Bar in 1979. La Russa is known as one of the winningest managers in the history of major league baseball. He has been repeatedly recognized for his understanding of organizational leadership, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

La Russa’s accomplishments include four manager of the year awards, the first manager to win multiple pennants in both leagues and three World Series championships in 1989, 2006 and 2011.

Junior Troy McGirt has been playing baseball since he was 3 years old and currently plays as a first baseman for Elon’s baseball team. He said there is no other sport that requires the mental capacity needed for baseball.

“Being a leader on a baseball team means staying the same, never getting too high or too low,”  McGirt said. “Creating great chemistry is the start of creating great teams.” 

McGirt also said he grew up watching La Russa and recognizes him as a staple in the world of baseball.

“He was fearless in the way he managed the game but also fought for his players,” McGirt said. “Someone of Coach La Russa’s stature is a great example of that being someone who creates infectious energy around a team. He has seen a lot and accomplished a lot.”

In La Russa’s 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech, he cited the role of organizational advantages, the leadership lessons learned from mentors, the influence of players’ competitive efforts and the importance of coach staff expertise. He is expected to share similar insights during his visit to Greensboro, including what it takes to lead a successful team in any profession or environment. 

“The core of Elon Law education is about doing good while you’re learning how to be a lawyer,” Kramer said. “It’s a service, cuts at the heart of what we do and it goes hand-in-hand with leadership. I think all Elon students would benefit from someone who has shown that they can lead at the highest level of stressful levels, but also a level of leadership in a kind of profession that brings a lot of joy and heartbreak to a lot of people.”

Like Elon’s undergraduate programs, Kramer said Elon law focuses on engaged and experiential learning. One of the hopes of the speaker series is to induce excitement and engagement among the university's students, as well as faculty and staff.

Kramer said that Elon Law is always looking for opportunities to showcase leadership from different and unique perspectives. 

“We want to make sure that it is an exciting speaker series,” Kramer said. “It is a thoughtful speaker series. It is an inclusive speaker series and a valuable speaker series where people walk away not only feeling they've learned something, but it will spark interest in doing more work on bettering the community around us.”

McGirt said hearing from La Russa would be a great opportunity to learn and grow and will be beneficial to all students.

“Taking advantage of something like this will not only help me as a player, who considers himself a leader, but also help me as a person and teach me life skills that will carry over into my future,” McGirt said.