A top-25 men’s basketball team and a new coaching era in football have dominated the headlines around Colorado athletics this week.
Much of CU’s internal focus for years, however, has been on issues that have a widespread and long-lasting impact on all of the school’s student athletes.
On Wednesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, the spotlight shined on many of those issues with CU’s third annual Inclusive Sports Summit (ISS).
Highlighted by keynote speakers Kate Fagan and Phillip Lindsay, the day-long ISS also included discussions about name, image and likeness; body image consciousness; a diverse student-athlete experience; destigmatizing mental health in athletes; and a variety of other topics.
Medford Moorer, CU associate director of academics and development, organized the event. He said it’s important for CU to host this event, which includes interactive discussion on diverse topics. The ISS was open to the public.
“From my perspective, it’s important that we continually engage and figure out how to create an environment where everyone has equal access, equal opportunity to be the best person that they can be,” Moorer said. “When you throw sport into that, it’s also that environment from a coaches standpoint, from a player, from administrator to be conscious of what the student athletes and the students are actually going through.
“(The ISS) is more about creating the space for the students to be the best that they can be, while also creating a space for the administration and everyone to come together and figure out how to support those students to be the best that they can be. And so that’s why this is important.”
Fagan, who played basketball at CU, is a former writer/broadcaster at ESPN and author of New York Times bestseller “What Made Maddy Run,” which is about a former University of Pennsylvania athlete who committed suicide six years ago. Fagan spoke about a variety of cultural issues, including mental health.
Lindsay, a former CU running back who currently stars for the Denver Broncos, spoke about overcoming different obstacles, which for him as a learning disability, in the pursuit of greatness. Lindsay was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder but through his own work and the help of others, he graduated from CU.
The ISS also included a panel of CU athletes discussing and taking questions about their diverse experiences at CU. The panel was moderated by CU track and field standout Eriana Henderson.
“Everybody can hear our experience and know that it’s not all glitz and glamour and know that we do struggle,” Henderson said, “but also know that we have the resources and we have the space to be able to get up and talk about it and not feel afraid to talk about it.
“We get up here and we can be so vulnerable and know everybody accepts us, and to know that people are coming out and actually just here to listen to us and hear us speak.”
Henderson said she is grateful to Moorer organizing the event, as well as athletic director Rick George, whose time at CU has always been focused on the student-athlete.
“It feels like we have so much support here and change can really happen,” Henderson said. “(George) has an open door policy that we can just come in and talk. So I think we have the best athletic director in the country just because he knows all of our names, he talks to us, he’s not afraid to just say anything. He lets us know that he’s human, and we’re human, as well.”