LOS ANGELES (KSNT) – KU is helping its black student-athletes grow in many different ways.
The university sent ten student-athletes and six staff members to a black student-athlete summit in Los Angeles. The summit helps more than 1,500 black student-athletes connect from universities all over the country, and not just from Power Five schools. Division II, HBCUs and junior colleges also send groups to the summit.
There are different activities and seminars packed into four days. It includes networking, professional development, financial literacy and more.
“Everybody was just super cool and awesome about it,” softball catcher Lyric Moore said. “We were able to ask them questions that we could bring back to our campus to help out KU. We had conversations regarding how we have RISE here. We had conversations about how do we get our attendance up in RISE, or what activities to do you do on your campus to empower your athletes?”
Former KU student-athlete Chris Hughes organizes the trip for the Jayhawks every year.
“I went as a student-athlete,” Hughes said. “Then, I also went as a staffer twice. Every time, I’ve got a different perspective. It’s one of those things where you go in like, ‘Oh, I think I know what’s going to go on. I know what’s going to happen. I already know what’s going to impact me.’ My mind’s blown every time. There’s a full spectrum of emotions and a full spectrum of learning and opportunity that you truly, honestly can’t get in too many spaces.”
KU has a long interview process to select which student-athletes attend the summit. The trip is also impactful for the staff members who go.
“There was a segment [when] they spoke about the mental health of staffers and coaches,” Hughes said. “It was almost like you could feel the whole room have that ‘Aha’ moment. They’re talking about how we’re in a world now where mental health is one of the forefront conversations we’re having. Why are we not talking about coaches’ mental health and staffers’ mental health?”
Football’s Michael Ford and De’Kendrick Sterns, Soccer’s Hayven Harrison, Swim and Dive’s Keyla Brown, Tennis’ Kylin Sadler, Volleyball’s London Davis and Track & Field’s Kennedy Doakes, Marcus Freeman and Ja’Brandion Douglas also attended the summit.