March - April 2014 in Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee
Multi-Nation Basketball Sports Visitors Program
The Multi-Nation Basketball Sports Visitors Program took place in March and April 2014 in Knoxville and Nashville, TN. The program consisted of 24 participants from six countries – three female players and one female coach from each country. The countries that were represented were Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Korea, and Turkey. The program lasted 11 days in total.
The participants attended a program orientation upon arrival followed by an afternoon of team building games and icebreakers with the Therapeutic Recreation department at the University of Tennessee. An important day in the program was on April 3rd when the participants spent the day with Michelle Kwan at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and on a panel at the University. The coaches participated on the panel with Michelle Kwan and Dr. Sarah Hillyer moderated it. The panel focused on challenges to female participation in sport around the world, as well as challenges to women in general. This panel was a great opportunity for the coaches as well as the community and university. It was an excellent showcase of the cultural exchange that happens on these programs. Another major highlight of the program was the four days spent in Nashville for the NCAA Women’s Final Four tournament. The participants were able to play basketball and work on drills, participate in Tourney Town, listen to presentations by Coach Holly Warlick, and do sessions with Dr. Becky Clark and Dr. Sammie Sammy. The Nashville portion was such an important part of the trip and was both fun and educational. The session with Dr. Becky Clark exposed the participants to adaptive sports and the ways sport can be inclusive. The sessions with Dr. Sammie helped the participants to think about the pressures of being a female and a female athlete and how that affects our body image.
The participants also took part in many cultural activities. These included an arts festival at West High School, a visit to Patriot Academy, volunteering at Girls, Inc., shopping, and home hospitality at Dr. Huffman’s. The arts festival at West High School was a festival of arts, crafts, music, and dancing put on by only students with special needs. This was such a unique opportunity for the participants to see how inclusive art can be and how they can incorporate something like this into their action plans. The visit to Patriot Academy was an incredible experience for the participants. During the visit the participants were able to speak to different classrooms, watch the choir perform, eat lunch in the cafeteria, play basketball with a physical education class, and receive certificates of honorary citizenship from the Mayor of Jefferson County. All of the different cultural activities helped to enhance the cultural sharing experiences for all of the participants. Another very important activity was attending the NCAA Women’s Final Four. This experience was not only about sports but about the cultural experience gained by attending these games.
The culmination of the program was the presentation of their action plans. Each country presents theirs separately and they all focused on raising awareness of opportunities for female participation in sports or raising awareness of persons with disabilities and the challenges they face.