CSL Daily

April 23, 2017

CSL in Europe: Day 1-Milan

by Paul Keyes, Gabby Dyer and Evan Charles, CSL Graduate Students

An 8-hour flight is the only thing standing in between the CSL Class 0f ’17 and 10 days of our European escapade.  We will be arriving in Milan, Italy at roughly 8:30am, where we will then travel to our hotel before taking a walking tour of the city.  After the tour we head to the world famous San Sierro Stadium for a Serie A matchup between AC Milan and Empoli.

As anticipation builds we find ourselves reflecting back on the past year and the transformations we have made while beginning our careers in the sports industry.  After a quick bite to eat at the airport bdubs (while watching an unfortunate Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup Semi-Final loss to Chelsea) we began our short layover while waiting to board.  Most of us are catching up on some much needed sleep, while others continue to work on SEED analysis papers after a successful and productive event schedule this spring.  But most importantly we are together sharing a few laughs and memories while we learn the ins and outs of European sports.

Our first full day in Europe started off strong! We landed in Milan around 8:30am, met up with our guide Sjoerd from LanCon, and headed off to enjoy breakfast in a snazzy hotel lounge that reminded several of us of the eccentric Quirk Hotel back home in Richmond. After fueling up and quickly changing for the day, we drove to the Centro Storico to meet our tour guide, a local woman named Michaela. We not only toured the ancient Castello Sforzesco, but went on to see the famous Duomo di Milano, walk down the picturesque Via Monte Napoleone, and gawked at the upscale shops in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The highlight of the day had to be taking a turn at spinning on the tile bull featured on the Turin Coat of Arms. Michaela went on to fill us in on the historical significance of this strange tradition. The Galleria was built 1877 by Giuseppe Mengoni. Sadly, Mengoni plummeted to his death from the scaffolding just weeks before the 14-year project was completed. So, to ward off evil spirits and similar bad luck, passerby’s are instructed to put their right heel on the bull’s testicular region and spin counterclockwise three times, which is said to bring good luck. There was actually a deep hole from where so many visitors and even locals have participated in this silly tradition. If this luck follows us, hopefully we’ll be able to hang onto the beautiful 70-degree weather for the rest of the trip!

In the afternoon, we attended a soccer game between AC Milan and Empoli at San Siro Stadium. This was a truly memorable experience as San Siro Stadium is the largest stadium in Italy and provided an awesome match day atmosphere. San Siro stadium seats just over 80,000 fans and has hosted both World Cup and European Cup games. Although Milan ended up losing 2-1, the game was as dramatic and exciting as they come and we enjoyed soaking in the atmosphere with the local fans. Almost half of our students left decked out in customized AC Milan gear!

One main takeaways was developing an understanding about both the history and social activities of the Milanese people. The Milanese are very proud of their heritage and they have a unique culture including aperitivo time and the love of soccer. Aperitivo time is an extended happy hour from about 7-9 p.m. featuring drinks and cocktails at a reduced price and free small appetizer platters. In Milan, meals are a social aspect which often includes less attention from the waiter and a longer meal time.

April 20, 2017

SEED Events Embrace Service Learning, Community Engagement

Combining the Center for Sport Leadership belief in service learning and VCU’s commitment to community engagement, our 2017 SEED (Sport and Entertainment Event Development) events achieved a significant impact.

Thanks to the hard work of our graduate students, this year’s five SEED events raised just shy of $5,000 for local non-profits organizations, served more than 650 youth in the Richmond area and totaled more than 750 hours of community service.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Dr. Carrie LeCrom, executive director of the Center for Sport Leadership. “They have been working hard for months on these events and their effort and dedication has paid off.”

The purpose of SEED is to empower the students to plan and execute a community based sporting event. Working in groups of seven, the students are responsible for operations, logistics, sponsorships, and marketing. Each group is advised by a faculty or staff member, but the students are the decision makers.

Each groups works with a non-profit partners= to develop the theme and purpose of the event.

  • Day of Play
    The inaugural Day of Play was held on Saturday, March 25
    . The idea for this event came out of a social action project created by a previous CSL graduate students who wanted to improve the relationship between police and inner city youth. Partnering with the Richmond Police Department, the event featured a series of stations and activities where kids could participate and compete against police officers. Proceeds from the event benefitted the Richmond Police Athletic League.
  • International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
    This first time event was scheduled for April 6, the day organizations around the world would be celebrating. Unfortunately, a tornado warning forced our students to postpone and re-schedule for April 17. Partnering with the YMCA of Greater Richmond and their after-school program at Woodville Elementary School, our students used soccer drills and exercise to teach children about sportsmanship, respect, teamwork and listening.
  • Junior Masters at The First Tee
    Working with our friends at The First Tee of Greater Richmond, our students planned this golf themed event for kids out of school during spring break. Stations incorporated the First Tee’s 9 core values, using different golf drills and games to illustrate the principle.
  • VCU Paralympic Experience Day
    Embracing Sportable’s mission of adaptive sports, this event, held on Friday April 14, allowed people of all ages and abilities to experience what adaptive sport & paralympic athletes face. The interactive atmosphere is capped by a wheelchair basketball featuring the VCU men’s and women’s basketball teams against Sportable’s nationally ranked wheelchair basketball team.
  • Big Feet Meet
    This track & field event, held on Tuesday April 18, is a collaboration with Special Olympics Virginia and address their mission of inclusion and unity. More than 400 students with intellectual disabilities are partnered with classmates from their high school to compete in activities & games.

You can watch a video recap of each event on our YouTube page.


April 19, 2017

2017 Student Award Winners Honored

A pair of VCU Center for Sport Leadership graduate students were honored by faculty and fellow students for their performance and dedication during the school year.  Andy Hogue was voted Student of the Year by the cohort. Wes Chappell won the Student Achievement Award voted on by the faculty.

The Student of the Year award honors a full-time student who has displayed enthusiastic commitment, leadership qualities, and academic excellence to the VCU Center for Sport Leadership Program. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Andy graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in statistics. While at Virginia, Andy was employed for three years by the University of Virginia football team as a member of the water crew. He also helped out the media relations staff at Virginia by recording statistics during home football games. Andy is a graduate assistant in the VCU Athletics Communications office. He hopes to pursue a career in media relations in a collegiate athletics program after graduation.

Each year the faculty of the Center for Sport Leadership recognizes one outstanding student who has demonstrated excellent leadership and service to the Center and/or university, and who has otherwise distinguished him or herself through commitment and dedication to a particular area of sport leadership. Born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia, Wes graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, completing a double major in Spanish and Economics. He began his professional career working for four years as a data analyst at Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. Wes is currently in his second year of the M.B.A./M.Ed. dual degree program through the VCU School of Business and Center for Sport Leadership. He spent the past academic year as a graduate assistant in corporate sales for the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team, the double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, and continued working with the organization as a full-time intern during the summer. Wes is now a graduate assistant with VCU Men’s Basketball, assisting the Director of Sports Performance with their data analytics software. Upon culmination of the dual degree program at VCU, Wes aims to pursue a career working with a professional sports franchise or a collegiate athletics program, using data analytics as a driver for innovation and success within the organization.

The awards were announced Wednesday by Dr. LeCrom. Both Wes and Andy receive $250 and will have their names engraved on the award plaques which are displayed in the CSL Conference Room.


April 18, 2017

Unity, Inclusion Highlight Big Feet Meet

In this track meet, the most important measurables aren’t time, speed & distance. They are unity, inclusion and fun.

On a sun-splashed morning, the 2017 Big Feet Meet featured Special Olympic athletes and able-bodied classmates from their high school working together to compete in a series of track & field events.  More than 400 participants representing all ten Henrico County High Schools came to Highland Springs High School Tuesday to enjoy events such as shot put, turbo javelin, softball throw and long jump, as well as the 50 and 100 meter dash. An “Olympic Village” featured a variety of outdoor activities and games.

More than 100 volunteers, many of them students from Highland Springs High School, helped facilitate the stations and encouraged the participants.

“I think the event went really well today! The weather was beautiful and every athlete had a smile on their face today, and that is really the main goal of this event,” said Maggie McFadden, Academic Coordinator for the Center for Sport Leadership.


“Our event would not have been possible without the hard work and guidance of Aly Truesdale of Special Olympics Virginia, the organization and availability of Dalida Ghoussoub from Highland Springs, our volunteers, our classmates and finally the generous donations we received,” said Dani Ellis, CSL graduate student and part of the group who organized the event. Thanks to sponsorships and gifts, the VCU Center for Sport Leadership made a donation of $952.20 to the Special Olympics of Virginia.

April 18, 2017

Delays Can’t Dampen Celebration for International Day of Sport for Development & Peace

The original event was postponed because of a tornado, then the re-scheduled event was forced inside because of rain. Despite adversity in planning Richmond’s first observance of International Day of Sport for Development & Peace, the day achieved one of it’s most important goals: learn and have fun through sport. April 6 was the day people around the world celebrated but the CSL’s event was held Monday April 17 at Woodville Elementary school in collaboration with the YMCA’s after school program.

Thirty CSL students led more than 50 kids through four soccer stations that incorporated the themes of Respect, Listening, Sportsmanship, and Teamwork. Students were able to practice the fundamentals of soccer while learning about the 4 themes and interacting with their peers and our volunteers. The students were able to experience the power of working together and achieving success.

Following the soccer stations, the students recapped what they learned with our volunteers and then engaged in a game of freeze dance led by CSL’s very own DJ H.Live. The YMCA Woodville Site Director Alan Morton then spoke to the group about the power of volunteerism and several Woodville Elementary students took turns expressing thanks to our volunteers and explaining what volunteerism meant to them.

Alan Morton of the YMCA was thrilled the event was brought to Woodville this year.
“We wanted to say thanks again for facilitating such a great event. The kids are really taking to soccer because of you all. They had a great time and so did the staff.”

The event would not have been possible without our incredible sponsors and community partners. Crossridge Family & Cosmetic Dentistry made it possible for each of the Woodville YMCA participants to leave the event with a drawstring bag and their very own soccer ball! The kids were ecstatic when they found out they were each able to take a ball home to keep and that would not have been possible without the generous support of Crossridge Family & Cosmetic Dentistry! The Richmond Kickers were also instrumental in making the day a success. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to donate 50 new soccer balls to Woodville Elementary School and each of the 50 YMCA after school participants went home with a free ticket to go see the Kickers play at City Stadium! Lastly, we would like to thank the entire YMCA after school program staff at Woodville Elementary for welcoming us with open arms and helping us build relationships with the students they serve.

Overall, the first ever Richmond area celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was a huge success! Knowing 43 million people worldwide were also taking part in events similar to this puts the power of sport into perspective for us all, and we are grateful we were able to bring that celebration to an underserved population in our own community. It was certainly special to watch these students learn, improve, and have fun, and hopefully, the students’ new found love of soccer and working together will inspire them to keep practicing and open the door for new opportunities in their lives.


April 17, 2017

VCU Paralympic Experience Day Makes Powerful Impact

More than 150 participants flooded into the E.J. Wade Arena in the Stuart C. Siegel Center for the 2017 edition of the VCU Paralympic Experience Day in an effort to promote and enhance Sportable’s brand image, and engage the Richmond community in an amazing opportunity that provided the athletes and spectators with a memorable experience through adaptive sports. Over 50 volunteers showed up to help with the event, including CSL students and professors, Sportable employees, Capital One employees, and several members of the VCU men’s and women’s basketball team, engaging with the participants throughout the event.

“We had an amazing turn out,” said Amber Easter, a member of the group of CSL students who planned and hosted the event. “It was great to see both Sportable athletes and the community enjoying the night, in addition to seeing participants trying out new sports.” Hunter Leemon, Sportable’s Executive Director, also shared his thanks and admiration for the event at the end of the night. “Thank you guys for coming out and helping make this night a success. This event just keeps getting better and better each year it’s put on.”

The event operated carnival style, meaning that participants and volunteers had the opportunity to freely move around and participate in the offered sport of their choice. Although there were participants at all eight stations, some of the more popular sports of the night were wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and goalball.

The excitement only intensified once the wheelchair basketball scrimmage between the Defending Champions Sportable Spokes and some VCU men’s and women’s basketball players took place. Both teams played tough, fast, and furious but in the end, the VCU basketball players were able to squeak out a 4-point victory over the Spokes, 24-20.

Of course, our event wouldn’t have been made possible without the help of our Sponsors: Mobility Supercenter, VCU Health, Hallsley, Becker & Calliot Marketing, Chick Fil A Willow Lawn, Little Mexico, Capital One, and Hibernate.