Hi, my name is Rachel Goodman and I am one of PeacePlayers’ Communications and Development interns this summer and I’d like to tell you a little bit about why I am here.
In a little over a month from now, the 2015 ESPYs will air. Each year, someone receives the Arthur Ashe Courage Award — the most important award of the night in my opinion. It is awarded to an individual whose contributions transcend the world of sports. The first recipient was North Carolina State University Head Basketball Coach Jim Valvano in 1993, who lost his battle with cancer just 8 weeks after receiving the award. I must have been about 12-years-old the first time I saw the video of the famous speech he gave that night. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you do — but at its core, his speech advised how to battle adversity and make the most of every day we have. Even all these years later, Jimmy V’s words have stuck with me:
“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Despite a body ravaged by disease, he looked strong up on that stage — like he was back in the NCSU locker room giving one of his dramatic halftime pep talks. Hearing his ESPY speech was the moment I truly realized the power of sport to create positive change in this world; that a ball on a court can mean much more than what appears on the surface.
Currently, I am a junior journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin participating in the Texas Program in Sports and Media (TPSM).
The program seeks to create a community on campus that explores how the microcosm of sports relates to and influences society at large.
Each student in the program must find a sports internship that suits their interest. I didn’t need to think twice; surely, there was an organization out there that combined my two passions: basketball and social justice. And with the help of the good people over at Google, I quickly stumbled upon the PeacePlayers International website.
Reading through PPI’s pages discussing their programs and curriculum, I couldn’t contain my excitement. When I read that PPI and two of their Northern Ireland coaches received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2007, I thought back to that first time I heard Jimmy V’s speech.
Everything had come full circle for me; this was an organization that I could see myself being part of.
PPI’s programs around the world are making young people laugh, think, and cry seven days a week, 365 days a year. Children from opposing sides — whether that be in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, South Africa, or the Middle East — are building friendships, learning what makes them equals and how to spread that mindset throughout their communities, and together crying tears of victory and defeat both on and off the court.
In my short time with PPI, I have already begun to see just how enormous and far-reaching the effects of their programs are and I am so excited to have the opportunity to work for this incredible organization.
I think it’s safe to say that Jimmy V would agree with me when I say that PPI has certainly created something special.