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VOLeaders 1
VOLeader student–athletes Photo by Caitlin Ryan

Sport-based service is the theme of an upcoming study abroad trip for 15 student–athletes in the VOLeaders Academy, a yearlong program that supports student–athletes to become positive, socially responsible leaders.

student–athlete helps child shoot a ball into the hoop at a VOLeaders event.
Ariadna Riley, a student-athlete, helps a child shoot a basketball into the hoop at a VOLeaders event. Photo by Caitlin Ryan

Representing more than a dozen sports on campus, the group will spend nearly two weeks—from June 26 to July 9—in cities and villages across Rwanda applying the lessons they’ve learned over the fall and spring semesters.

“The group has spent the last year investing in their own individual leadership journey and working to apply these concepts to their teams, on UT’s campus, and within our community,” said Joe Scogin, senior associate athletics director and assistant provost.

“As a culminating experience, this trip introduces our student–athletes to global challenges and the power that sport can have to bring a positive impact.”

The itinerary for the trip includes visits to the Ministry of Sports, the Olympic Committee, and the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Student–athletes also will participate in workshops and training sessions with local nongovernmental organizations and schools:

  • Impano Sports, an organization using track and field to encourage sport participation for girls
  • White Dove School, an all-girls preparatory school focused on STEM, performing arts, and athletics
  • Shooting Touch, a basketball organization serving 1,000 women and children in rural communities with life skills training and free health care screenings
  • Together in Sport, which provides sport, education, and health and wellness programs to under-served children in Gako

On the last Saturday in June, the group will participate in Umuganda, a nationally recognized monthly community work day in which all Rwandans are required to participate.

Andrew Rogers, a student-athlete, plays with a child during a VOLeaders event. Photo by Caitlin Ryan

Through a partnership with the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture, the VOLeaders also will visit a program launched by Donnie and Terry Smith in Musanze to support impoverished farmers raising chickens for profit. The program helps provide farmers with the business skills and training they need to be successful.

While in Musanze, the VOLeaders will organize a sports festival for local children. More than 100 children are expected to participate.

“Pat Summitt taught that before you can lead others you have to learn how to lead yourself,” said Stanzi Moseley, a junior swimmer from Bakersfield, California. “We learned how to do exactly that throughout the year in the classroom. Now we have the exciting opportunity to travel to Rwanda and show what it means to use our platform as athletes, to be servant leaders, and demonstrate how sport is a uniting factor across different cultures and communities.”

The VOLeaders Academy launched in 2015. Since then, 63 student–athletes have participated in the program, including service-based study abroad trips to Brazil, Vietnam, and Ecuador. Since graduating from the program, student–athletes have gone onto a broad range of careers: Alex Cleveland (swimming, a member of the 2015–16 VOLeaders cohort) joined the Peace Corps in Namibia; Katie Porter (rowing, 2016–17 cohort) was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and will join its Medical Corps after medical school; and Garrett Stallings (baseball, 2017–18 cohort) was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Angels. Basketball players Admiral Schofield (2016–17 cohort) and Grant Williams (2017–18 cohort) participated in last night’s NBA Draft. Williams was selected 22nd overall by the Boston Celtics, while Schofield was selected 42nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Washington Wizards.

 

Contact:

Brian Canever (865-974-0937, bcanever@utk.edu)

Caitlin Ryan (865-974-9656, lryan1@utk.edu)