Department of Athletics EDI
By: Chris Barker, Deputy AD and Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee
I have to start with the old sports quote, “There is no I in Team.” This quote exemplifies who we are, and who we need to be in so many ways! We are grateful for the support and alignment we have received from Chancellor Ford, Dr. Sheronda Glass, Trina Patterson, and our Faculty Athletic Board chair, Dr. Kenny French. Additionally, our staff has worked really hard on the initiatives and progress outlined below, highlighted by the efforts of the Appreciation of Differences Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council.
We have been able to do many things this semester, and I know that none of it would have been possible without this support! That being said, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the world we live in, but I know we will move the needle through teamwork, hard work and commitment to our culture here at Parkside.
Please excuse my overused baseball reference, but as they say, “if you build it, they will come.” In November, after a few months of planning, we officially launched the Appreciation of Differences Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council. Our department is proud of this council, what it will provide for our students and staff, and how we will align with and impact our Parkside Community. The committee consists of the following members:
- Chris Barker, Deputy AD and Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee (chair)
- Andrew Gavin, Director of Athletics
- Hayley Treadway, Senior Associate AD/Compliance and Student Success
- Sean Daniels, Assistant AD/Strategic Communications and Marketing / RSAAC Co-Advisor
- Ashley Beaton, Athletics Academic Advisor / RSAAC Co-Advisor
- Luke Reigel, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
- Brittany Nikolic, Head Women’s Soccer Coach
- Dr. Kenny French, Associate Professor / Faculty Athletic Board Chair
- Ramon Romero – Junior, Cross Country and Track & Field, Student EDI Council
- Brandon Wilson – Sophomore, Cross Country and Track & Field, RSAAC EDI Officer
- Jazmine Neal – Junior, Volleyball, GLIAC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (Parkside representative)
We wanted to share a few highlights of an unprecedented fall semester, specific to our EDI initiatives.
Hiring has been a focus of our department in the past few years under the leadership of Director of Athletics Andrew Gavin. We’ve focused on recruiting and retaining a talented, diverse, and positive staff to support our student-athletes. Heading into 2020-21, eight of the 10 newcomers to our staff were women and/or unrepresented minorities. Seven of these individuals are graduate students, and the one full-time position is our athletics academic advisor, a position created through the NCAA’s Strategic Alliance Matching Grant program, which focuses on jump-starting the careers of women and underrepresented populations.
Beginning this school year, each athletics department and conference office nationally is appointing an athletics diversity and inclusion designee. I was honored to earn this designation at UW-Parkside, becoming the point of contact between the NCAA national office, conference, athletics department, and campus.
We also this year began utilizing Canvas to create virtual educational programming on EDI for our student-athletes. As part of their student-athlete orientation, this achieved our goal of ensuring that all student-athletes were provided with EDI programming, and we are thrilled to have this sustainable platform moving forward.
In October, NCAA Division II celebrated EDI Week, and our team really stepped up to the plate to make our EDI presence known, with many communications and marketing elements that featured what our students, staff and faculty represent here at Parkside.
During EDI Week, sophomore student Grace Scalzo interviewed sophomore Brandon Wilson on her Instagram TV show, Touching Base with Grace. Brandon was elected as our EDI Chair, a new officer position on the Ranger Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (RSAAC). Brandon did a fantastic job articulating his life story, why he chose Parkside and what EDI means to him and how he embraces every opportunity at Parkside to make an IMPACT!
I was also fortunate to be a guest on one of Grace’s shows and enjoyed being able to highlight our department goals for this year and share what EDI work means to me personally and professionally, and why I continue to choose Parkside for what we do here and who we serve.
Junior Jazmine Neal, a volleyball student-athlete, was selected to participate on a national forum for the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics (NACDA) Fall Forum that focused on the Intersections of Identities: The Student-Athlete Experience in Today’s World Confirmation. Jazmine did an outstanding job talking her personal experiences and her experience at Parkside, and was a great representative of our students here at Parkside.
Our team, specifically our strategic communications & marketing team (Assistant AD Sean Daniels, Graduate Assistant Dylan Derousseau, & Graduate Assistant AK Hall) crushed the NCAA DII EDI week. We were able to create a social media campaign that was highlighted by three videos that focused on the voices of our department’s students and staff in the areas of: “My Story Matters,” “I’ve Got Your Back,” and “Together We Rise.”
In late October, I was provided the opportunity to be a guest on the university’s Perspective on Policing and Social Justice, and I was proud to share my personal experiences as a person of color, and how it has shaped my personal and professional life as an athletic administrator. In preparation for this platform, I was able to meet with Dr. French, Brandon Wilson, and another student-athlete, junior Ramon Romero (Cross Country/Track & Field). During our meeting, Professor French and I were able to share our stories and hear their stories. It was a powerful conversation and a sad reminder of how we need to continue to educate and advocate for change. I know at Parkside we will commit to the time and hard work necessary!
On November 3, we also chose to “Rock The Vote” and ensured that all student-athletes and staff within our department were able to have their voice heard. We joined our conference colleagues and cancelled all athletics activities on Election Day.
We also launched our EDI Monthly Spotlight, where we focus on highlighting the efforts of our Parkside Community and those exemplify what our campus community is and wants to be. We highlighted Trina Patterson, our university’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager. We are fortunate have Trina at Parkside, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone that we are excited to support her in the leadership of our campus and community EDI initiatives!
Trina and myself were able to speak with our student-athlete leaders, and enjoyed sharing our goals, perspectives, as well hearing their wants and needs. We are all here for the students at Parkside and I know that through continuous conversations and commitment to their needs, we will continue to make an impact.
In December, Dr. French was our EDI Social Media Spotlight. It was great to hear what EDI means to him, and we were excited to introduce him to RSAAC for what was probably the highlight of the semester. Dr. French came and presented to our RSAAC on the Geography of Rap & Athletics. Talk about engaging, our students loved his presentation and Dr. French dropped the mic to say the least! So many times, we get caught in the “old way” of doing things, and he made sure to do the opposite by sharing the impact of cultures within our country and how it has been and still is being communicated though rap.
We finished the year strong with a department staff EDI Training. We were fortunate, through the help of Dr. Glass, to bring in Rick Harris & Associates to provide a two-part bias training, which we will finish this spring.
Stay tuned for more Department of Athletics EDI new and be sure to follow the Rangers on social media!