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A Senegalese basketball delegation arrived at UT last week as part of the US Department of State’s global effort to engage women and girls through sports.

The Center for Sport, Peace, and Society will host the twelve female basketball players and two coaches until February 1 through the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, a global effort established by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While in Knoxville, the Senegalese sports visitors will participate in the “Strong Women. Better World.” curriculum created by assistant professors Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman. As part of the curriculum, participants will identify the needs of women and girls in their local communities and develop action plans that use sport to meet those needs.

The Senegalese women will meet representatives from key program partners in the Knoxville community, including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Girls Inc. of Oak Ridge, the Boys and Girls Club at Montgomery Village, and the YWCA After-School Program.

Members of the athletics department, the Lady Vols basketball team, and faculty members, including Joy DeSensi, Leslee Fisher, Gene Hayes, Rebecca Zakrajsek, and Craig Wrisberg, will help the Senegalese visitors learn about sports in the US, especially as it relates to women and girls, and how to work together to accomplish community change.

The Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is composed of faculty, staff, and students who believe that sport can be used to promote cultural understanding, enhance student learning, improve community welfare, and foster social change. The goal of the center is to create a civically engaged university and a more unified and inclusive community.

In 2012, the center was awarded a grant from SportsUnited to facilitate programs that will empower women and girls through sports. SportsUnited is housed in the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

For more information, visit the center’s website.


Sarah Hillyer (865-974-8917,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,