Student Organization Creates a Space for Black Student-Athletes to Connect, Support, and Lead
In the spring of 2020, there was much happening in our society to remind us that we continue to have racial inequalities and senseless violence against black individuals especially black men. Academic Services for Athletes and USF Athletics recognized a need for this population to have a voice, support, and connect with others who may have similar experiences. So they brought students together to create a space to connect with others and formed the Black Student-Athlete Council (BSAC).
The mission of the group is to create a safe space for black student-athletes to become educated on their history and issues involving the black community, striving to uplift the community through outreach, and actively bridge the gap between themselves and the people, students, and staff on and around the University of South Florida community.
“I’m excited about joining BSAC because it allows me to connect with other athletes that share a similar culture with me. We get to give back to the community, connect and have fun, as well as inform people about our purpose. I hope that it continues to grow and expand as time moves on,” said Amiree Hendricks-Walker, BSAC Vice President, Volleyball, freshman and rising sophomore.
The BSAC developed roles for the organization’s leadership and examined the goals and values they wanted to focus on for this special gathering of black student-athletes. They decided on education/social justice, community outreach, bridging the gap between black student-athletes and the campus community, mentorship of youth, and leadership and career development. It was important to them to represent themselves in the community to be more than just athletes.
One of the community activities BSAC engaged in was to visit the closest school, Dr. Kiran C. Patel Elementary School, to read to the students. Reading to the young students increases their literacy skills, vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension. Also, these young students are exposed to different people and can provide them with more cultural intelligence and the opportunity to ask the readers specific questions related to their experience in society. BSAC recapped their volunteer experience in this video.
During the last week of Spring 2022 classes, BSAC hosted a game night with almost 50 students in attendance. Along with games, everyone enjoyed barbeque, planned events for Fall, and received some inspiration from Ernie Sim, USF Football Linebacker Coach.
Sierra Berry, BSAC Community Engagement Rep., Women’s Tennis freshman and rising sophomore said, “Participating in BSAC gives me the opportunity to make new connections within USF athletics and in the Tampa community. I also want to give back to the community in any way that I can and BSAC will allow us to do that. Lastly, being in BSAC will help improve my networking and leadership skills. BSAC has a great amount of potential and I can’t wait to see what it grows into in the future.”
The organizational advisors for the student-athlete group are Greg Byrd, director of Men’s Basketball Athletic Training, Kydani Dover, director of Student Learning Services/Learning Specialist, and Carlton Rice, assistant athletic director of Student-Athlete Enhancement.
Brian Norris, BSAC Vice President, Football, Graduate Student said, “BSAC is an organization that gives black student-athletes a safe space to unite and discuss issues that impact our experience at USF and beyond. We look forward to its growth and encouraging more black student-athletes to join.”