CSL Daily

January 31, 2016

Goeie dag from South Africa


Sunday 12:24 AM

The first of many anticipated reunions commenced tonight shortly after our arrival in Johannesburg Sunday night to launch Phase Two of Project PUSH. Thumi, who was one of the 14 coaches and youth educators who traveled to Richmond last summer, met us at our hotel and escorted us to dinner. We’ll see Thumi again Tuesday when we visit the Boys & Girls Club of South Africa.

After an 18 hour flight from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg, the CSL delegation of eight educators & coaches, led by Dr. LeCrom, landed about 5:30pm local time (the time difference is 7 hours).  The anticipation for this trip has been building since Phase One concluded back in June.  We will spend the next two weeks visiting and meeting with coaches and educators in Johannesburg, Soweto, Stellenbosch, and Cape Town to follow up on the action plans they developed for their communities when they came to Richmond last summer.

On Monday morning, we’ll be up early to meet with Grassroots Soccer in Soweto.

Project PUSH (Play Until Something Happens), a partnership between the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond Strikers Soccer Club, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, Ragball International, and Grassroots Soccer, is a two-way cultural exchange funded under the U. S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Sports Programming Initiative. The purpose is to use the power of sport to create social change.

January 29, 2016

Get to Work… College Basketball

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 12.38.40 PMOne of the most unique aspects of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU is the opportunity to provide students with a year of real-world experience while simultaneously earning a master’s degree. Each Friday, we will be showcasing one of our current students, highlighting their graduate assistantship within the Richmond sports community.

The VCU basketball team has had a tremendous season, but did you know the graduate assistants are also having a great season on the court? One member who contributes to the success of bIMG_9299oth of these teams is Travis Wallace, a CSL student and GA for the VCU men’s basketball team.

Wallace’s primary responsibilities with the team include cutting film, mailing recruits, working out the payers and assisting the coaching staff with any needs they may have. As a player in his undergraduate career at the University of North Florida, he always knew he wanted to coach and help athletes prepare for life off and on the court.

Wallace’s favorite part of his job is helping to work out the players. He truly appreciates being able to see the players work on their craft and seeing their hard work pay off during their games. His favorite memory so far is getting to travel with the team as they played at Madison Square Garden. “MSG is known as one of the most famous courts in all of America. It was a great atmosphere with people I enjoy working with every single day.”

January 28, 2016

It’s Just the Panthers Way



I read that Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is paying for every employee of the team to attend Super Bowl 50. He’s going to pay for their flight and hotel, even interns. Full time employees are allowed to bring a guest.

It doesn’t surprise me or my colleagues at the CSL. It’s just the Panthers Way.

The Center for Sport Leadership at VCU has developed an incredible relationship with the Panthers organization. For more than a decade, we have been taking our graduate IMG_2508students to Charlotte to hear from the team’s front office. The level of hospitality and professionalism they have shown to our graduate students has always been first class.Team President Danny Morrison has spoken to our students in their team’s board room on several visits. I don’t know of many NFL team presidents who would take 30 minutes out of their day – during the season – to speak to grad students from Richmond. It’s just the Panthers Way.

Riley Fields, the Panthers Director of Community relations, was our initial contact and he set the tone for an incredible, educational experience. Over the years, Director of Broadcasting & New Media Henry Thomas has become a valuable friend and advocate of our program. Dan LaTorraca, the Manager of Digital Content and Strategy for, has consistently offered his support and advice both on visits and throughout the year as the CSL developed a new digital strategy. Those three, along with other members of the front office, allowed our students a rare glimpse into the world of the NFL. They didn’t just show a boring PowerPoint and recite their LinkedIn profile. They offered in-depth insight, including data and research on marketing, fan engagement and generating revenue. They could have handed each of our students a Panthers pen, snapped a picture in front of the logo and hustled us out the door but they didn’t. They wouldn’t. It’s just the Panthers Way.

Please don’t think I’m name dropping. I merely want you to know about some of the talented people behind the scenes with the Carolina Panthers, who make them such an incredible professional sports organization.

There’s a sign on the receptionist’s desk as you enter the team offices with a quote from owner jerry Richardson.  “The fan is the most valuable member of our team.”

Many of us here at the CSL were thrilled when the Panthers punched their ticket for Super Bowl XL. They are clearly doing it the right way on and off the field. The Panthers Way.

Check out this video from one of our trips to visit with the Carolina Panthers.


January 27, 2016

Faculty Forum-Off to South Africa

by Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D.  lecrom

Thanks to Winter Storm Jonas, Richmond is still digging itself out of the 15 inches of snow it received over a two-day period last week. And if I wasn’t already excited about the upcoming Project P.U.S.H. trip, Jonas pushed me over the edge to the welcome climate change! South Africa, where eight of us will be heading on January 30, is currently enjoying its summer months, so no need for any more snow boots and winter coats!


And thankfully, the warm summer weather will allow us to embrace all that Johannesburg and Cape Town have to offer. Project P.U.S.H. (Play Until Something Happens), is a sport for social change initiative generously funded by the U.S. Department of State. Through this initiative, the CSL has had the unique opportunity to work directly with 14 South African soccer coaches for the last six months, first when they came to the U.S. for a two-week trip, and since through personal mentoring and networking. Now, as Phase II of the project commences, we get to see the fruits of our labor and work with those who this great project has the opportunity to directly impact…the youth!


Our 14 South African leaders work with nearly 220 youth on a weekly basis, not only teaching them the beautiful game of soccer, but instilling in them the ability to make good choices no matter what they are faced with in life. The coaches have developed soccer-based curriculum for their youth around the areas of teen pregnancy, staying in school, HIV/AIDS, financial literacy, and leadership and life skills. Our trip to South Africa will allow us the chance to engage with the youth ourselves and see the impact Project P.U.S.H. has already made, and hopefully will continue to make long into the future.
Our delegation of eight (including 4 CSL alumni, 3 CSL faculty, 1 current CSL student, and 2 friends of the program…you do the math and figure that one out!) is thrilled to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We will spend time with each of our program partners (Grassroot Soccer, Boys & Girls Club of South Africa, Ragball International, and Fire Fighters Football Club), as well as spend time taking in the culture. Visits to the Apartheid Museum, Nelson Mandela’s home, Table Mountain, Stellebosch’s wine region and a national wildlife park are on the agenda, promising to be a tiring, but extremely rewarding two-weeks.

Follow us on the CSL daily blog and our social media channels while we’re gone.



January 26, 2016

Hat Tip Tuesday


On Tuesdays, we offer a “tip of the hat” to current students and alumni who have been hired, promoted, recognized for outstanding achievement or embarked on new opportunities. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.41.41 AM

Johnathan Mayo (’03) received the Martin Luther King Drum Major Award for Service for dedication, leadership and support to the Richmond community. The award included a medal of service and a certificate and letter from the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. It was given at the 14th Annual Drum Major Awards & Reception on January 18th presented by Boaz & Ruth, Urban Financial Services Coalition and Fifth Street Baptist Church. It was hosted by the James River Valley (VA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. Johnathan is the President of Avail, a markrting company that provides turnkey, collaborative, fundraising events that raise money and awareness for small non-profit organizations, and, provides opportunities for individuals and corporations to engage and empower community organizations.



January 26, 2016

Greenhalgh Quoted in PBR Article

bulkl riding

Each Center for Sport Leadership faculty member has an expertise in a specific area of research. For Greg Greenhalgh, it’s niche sports, which made him the perfect person to comment on an article on the Professional Bull Riding Tour.  The article appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal over the weekend, focusing on their new advertising slogan, “Toughest Sport on Earth”. Here’s an excerpt:

Gregory Greenhalgh, director of student services and outreach at the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, has researched niche sport sponsorships and said the PBR “toughest sport” marketing approach is ideal for its target audience.

“What really attracts companies to non-mainstream sports is the fact these sports attract a very homogenous target market. For the sponsors, it makes perfect sense,” Greenhalgh said.

“For Ford, they know they can speak to people of this idea of being tough, strong, dependable and reliable,” he said.

Greenhalgh brought up the example of Subaru, which explored buying a TV spot during a Super Bowl but decided against it when it realized only 10 percent of the viewers were its core customers. Instead, Subaru sponsored mountain biking and cycling because 90 percent of cyclists were potential buyers, he said.

“You have to fish where the fish are,” Greenhalgh said.

Here’s a link to the full article. If you would like to contact a CSL faculty member for an article, please contact Greg Burton at