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Eastern hosts a star-studded conversation on race in athletics

Published on January 28, 2021

Eastern hosts a star-studded conversation on race in athletics

Race in athletics

On Jan. 23 over WebEx, more than 300 students, faculty and staff from Eastern Connecticut State University and other colleges and universities heard a panel of prominent members of the higher education and professional sports communities discuss the impact of race in the world of intercollegiate athletics.

Panelists included Vicky Chun, the Thomas A. Beckett Director of Athletics at Yale University and a former Colgate University volleyball player; Grammy Award-winning performer Francois Clemmons, who played Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and is now

artist-in-residence emeritus at Middlebury College; Gil Kim, director of player development and MLB coach for the Toronto Blue Jays and former baseball player at Vanderbilt University; and  

Loretta Ross, visiting associate professor at Smith College and formerly associated with the National Football League Players Association and the National Organization for Women.

Through prepared comments as well as questions from the audience, the four panelists spoke on how the current racial landscape in American society and sports impacts college athletes; why activism and conversations promoting cultural awareness are important; how to initiate conversations about race and create a “call-in” culture for productive conversations; and how we can move forward to impact change on athletic teams and communities.

Eastern Baseball Coach Brian Hamm, who organized the event, said, “On all accounts, the event exceeded our expectations. The panel attracted a much larger audience than anticipated; this is a historic moment when people are looking for answers, especially when it comes to racial division in our country.

“The range of content that was covered was remarkable, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering each panelist would be the headliner on any other panel. Loretta, Vicky, Francois and Gil shared amazing stories — some very personal — that were communicated in a way that was authentic and heartfelt. It is clear that this session resonated with many people because of the overwhelming response of gratitude that we received afterward.”

The event was sponsored by the Eastern Connecticut State University Department of Athletics. For more information, visit

Written by Ed Osborn