REFLECTIONS: FOUR TIGERS ATTEND BLACK STUDENT-ATHLETE SUMMIT

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In late May, seven Clemson representatives attended the Black Student-Athlete Summit in Houston, Texas. Josh Beadle, (Basketball), Ari Daley (Track), MaKayla Elmore (Basketball) and Colleen Finney (Volleyball) attended as part of the cohort, while Clemson’s Student-Athlete Development team of Tori Niemann, Kayla Henderson and Dorien Dickey accompanied the group.

From its website, the BSAS describes itself as follows: The Black Student-Athlete Summit is the only event of its kind that caters to the holistic development of the Black Student-Athlete. Our three action-packed days are filled with dope content, dope people, and dope networking. The goal of the Summit is to empower Black Student-Athletes to maximize their college experience by killin’ it in the classroom and to not leave “any meat on the bone” in terms of opportunities. Professional staff who attend the Summit are empowered to go back to their campuses and create innovative initiatives to ensure that Black Student-Athletes are competitive in the global workforce upon graduation. (Official Site)

After attending, each of the student-athletes shared reflections on how the experience resonated, and how they have applied what they’ve learned. Their first-person reflections are below.

In addition to the programming, some of the connections have already paid off, as Finney was recently selected to the Sports Business Classroom Business of Basketball Immersive Experience. This event is an educational experience aimed at identifying, developing, and empowering the next generation of industry leaders in both basketball and sport. She is 1 of 2 students selected to receive a full scholarship on behalf of Meta to attend the event in Las Vegas, which includes 6 days of NBA Summer League, development sessions, and access to the Vegas Summer League talent profile page.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THE SUMMIT?

Ari Daley, Track & Field: My biggest takeaway from BSAS was the session we had with Jen Fry. She highlights how we as Black Student-Athletes tend to sink into our role in college athletics. (We do not speak up and out to the way others treat us, coaches included.) Lots of this has to do with how we carry trauma with us. We let our relationship with conflict and trauma carry on into our professional and personal life settings. we start to associate negative behaviors with ‘love.’ when it is not. Along with getting a therapist is not the end of the world nor does it make you any less of an athlete.

MaKayla Elmore, Women’s Basketball: I just wanted to share a quick recap and let others know that BSA did a fantastic job with the whole event.  I’m glad I decided to attend with other student athletes from all over the world. It’s truly great how easy our culture connects and how comfortable we can feel surrounded by others like yourself. My biggest takeaway from the Black Student Athlete Summit was, us black student-athletes need to speak the truth into power. We need more black women and men to be the faces of societies and universities. “Pursue mission over money, significance over status and impact over impression”

Josh Beadle, Men’s Basketball: My biggest takeaway from the Summit was that we have more power than we think. We are the oil; the machine won’t work without oil.

Colleen Finney, Volleyball: My biggest takeaway was to be passionate and intentional about everything you’re doing. I think our society, especially for people my age, focus on the success and goals of others. Therefore, we get so caught up in obtaining goals that are not our own, that we often feel unfulfilled. This Summit taught me to actually do what I love and turn it into my own measure of success.

WHY DO YOU THINK THIS SUMMIT IS IMPORTANT FOR OUR ATHLETES TO ATTEND?

Daley: It is super important to attend because it is just a major opportunity with all the like-minded people you will meet. I personally am big on networking (ask anyone). The amount of people in your field and professionals you’ll see as well as stories shared, will impact you now, and in the future.

Elmore: I think this Summit is important for athletes to attend because it helps them understand that they’re not alone. It helps them realize that there are others out there with the same problem. Together, we can come up with solutions and changes. When it comes to getting into college and higher education, we’re seeing less availability of specific academic and athletic scholarships. We need more people to speak up and demand a change. We can’t let the white culture define who we are and what we want.

Beadle: [It is important] because it gives you an entirely different outlook on the sports world and just the world in general, making you feel more informed and knowledgeable.

Finney: This was really an eye-opening experience that every athlete should experience. It was not only great to be in a space with other Black student-athletes, but incredible to be able to have real conversations about issues that impact us every day.

WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED TO BRING BACK TO CLEMSON AFTER ATTENDING THE SUMMIT?

Daley: I am excited to have connected with University of Texas VB Alumna Asjia O’Neal and Logan Eggelston. These two ladies have so much power and are courageous in ways many would never step out and do, like facing hate from donors, fans, and even  people they thought were friends. I am excited to bring back their knowledge and experience with LEAD at UT, and possibly start a program similar to it at Clemson with our Black SA’s… stay tuned!

Elmore: After attending the Summit, I am excited to bring back the “5 ways to be impactful back to Clemson University.

  1. Find something you are passionate about.
  2. Have a vision.
  3. Ignore the haters/naysayers
  4. Speak the truth into power.
  5. You’ve got to take, not all is given.

Beadle: Knowledge to my peers and more confidence to myself knowing that I have power and knowledge. You know what they say – knowledge is power.

Finney: I am excited to bring a newfound energy source into the group I am involved with on campus. And be able to be the best role model I can be. This was a great opportunity but would be wasted if I did not bring stuff back home.

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