Fisher, Miller, Skilton attended the ninth annual Black Student-Athlete Summit
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By: Pearllan Cipriano, Sports Information Graduate Assistant
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – Two Shippensburg University women’s soccer players, juniors Sydney Miller and Cassidy Skilton traveled to Houston, Texas with Assistant Director of Sports Medicine Miranda Fisher to attend the 2022 Black Student-Athlete Summit on the campus of Rice University.
This year marked the ninth annual Black Student-Athlete Summit, an event created to bring together Black Student-Athletes and the staff and administrators who support them in order to focus on the unique needs of Black student-athletes. A three-day event that was held at Rice University and was virtually formatted last year due to COVID-19. This is the first year SU student-athletes and staff have participated in this event.
The three-day event helps Black Student-Athletes to network with other schools and other athletes, while helping to empower these athletes to maximize their college experience by working hard in the classroom, their sports and creating different opportunity for them in the future.
“This was such an eye-opening experience, and it has allowed me to understand my worth as a black student-athlete. As a student-athlete who has attended this event I now feel empowered and motivated to bring back innovative ideas to assure all black student-athletes at Shippensburg University are heard and understand the power they hold,” Skilton said.
Skilton added, “It was a privilege to be able to attend this event and it has allowed me to take the knowledge that I have obtained from the many speakers and enable and educate those around me. This event was a great networking opportunity and allowed me to connect with many other black student-athletes from schools all over the country such as: Yale, University of Tennessee, The University of Rhode Island, Rice University, etc, as well as create connections with higher ups that innovate initiatives to ensure that black student-athletes, like myself, are competitive in the global workforce upon graduation.”
“The summit was an amazing experience and I struggle to find the words to accurately describe just exactly the joy it brought to me. Never in my life have I been in a situation where I’ve been around so many people who look like me, let alone do what I do, represent their school with the platform of a student athlete,” Miller said.
Miller added, “The sense of family was immaculate throughout the entire conference even though I only knew my fellow peers from Ship. I discovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed and the summit revealed parts of myself that have been hidden. BSA summit made me want to better myself not only as an athlete but as a person.
The summit brought together leaders and professionals to lead discussion such as Impact, Period Dr. Leonard Moore, Meeting the Needs of Black Women – Thaïs Bass-Moore, Destiny Determined! Destiny Littleton, and Chasing Moore than Football; A Long Journey from Compton to Capitol Hill Chase Moore. All the sessions were aimed to educate the students and athletic administrators with the tools necessary to understand and prioritize mental health of student-athletes, while understanding the unique challenges of diverse student-athlete populations.
“Three of my favorite speakers from this empowering event were Dr. Jen Fry’s talk on how your relationship to conflict is a mental health issue, Dreams and Nightmares: a dialogue from a panel of black student athletes that explained their experiences at their elite PWI institutions, and Chase Moore a motivational speaker who talked about his journey from living in Compton and his transition to becoming a Congressional Black Caucus member in Capitol Hill,” said Skilton.
Miller added, “Hearing stories of those who have overcome major life challenges, put into perspective how fortunate I am to live the life I live and the opportunities I have been given. Speakers from all over the country with different stories all resonated with me in their own way. Being fortunate enough to have had this opportunity makes me want to bring back the love and feeling of belonging to Ship.
Fisher attended a session for athletic administrators designed to help empower campuses and create innovative initiates to ensure that Black Student-Athletes to stay competitive in the global workforce upon graduation.
“The Black Student Athlete Summit was an incredible experience. Research and topics presented over the three-day summit highlighted various aspects of the Black student-athlete experience. It’s important for me to learn and understand these experiences in order to create a space for the black student athletes at Shippensburg University,” Fisher said.
Fisher added, “Over the three-day summit I was able to connect and network with professionals from across the country whose work is to enrich the Black student-athlete experience. There were also presentations from student groups on various campuses and the work they are doing to create change on their campus. Over 600 student athletes and professionals from across the country gathered to create an incredible experience.”
Not only are Miller and Skilton part of the women’s soccer team, they are also members of the ONEShip initiative, which envisions to create an anti-biased, anti-racist athletic community at Shippensburg University. The mission of ONESHIP is for the Department of Athletics to unite with its student-athletes, coaches, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and contributions. The initiative is committed to upholding the values of equity, justice, and inclusion by creating and sustaining an anti-biased and anti-racist environment in athletics and its broader communities.
“As a member of the leadership council of the student athlete group ONESHIP, I have acquired a multitude of ideas to improve our organization as a whole and I can’t wait to introduce them to the fellow student athletes within the group,” said Skilton. “This was a week filled with growth, inspiration, and black appreciation and I am so grateful that I was able to attend this unforgettable experience!”
“I’d like to carry over the feelings this summit gave me to my fellow student-athletes and to the members of ONESHIP. I met student-athletes from Big Ten, SEC, and Ivy League schools who are also leaders on their campus and are furthering change as well. I can’t wait to bring back the skills, techniques and perspectives I’ve discovered to ONESHIP, I know this group has so much potential and I can’t wait to see what’s to come,” added Miller.
“I also enjoyed getting to share this experience with two student athletes from ONESHIP Sydney Miller and Cassidy Skilton. They are both leaders within the ONESHIP Student Group within athletics and this experience will expand their leadership within ONESHIP and the university as a whole,” said Fisher.