ECC On Campus - University of the District of Columbia

ECC On Campus - University of the District of Columbia

Central Islip, N.Y. -The latest ECC On Campus focuses on one of our newest members, the University of the District of Columbia. Though relatively new to the ECC, the Firebird athletic department has a rich history that they continue to build on today. Through written and recorded interviews, this feature will take a look at some of the positive people, activities, and acheivements that are connected to the athletic programs at UDC.

Current Student-Athlete: Janelle Junior, Women's Basketball

Janelle Junior’s family always focused on academics first and then athletics as she was growing up.  Her decision to attend the University of District of Columbia to study and play basketball after beginning her athletic career at San Bernadino CC in California was not an easy one.  However Janelle felt that the opportunity to move to the East Coast and especially Washington, D.C. from her hometown of Riverside, California was the right one after she met Coach Jay Butler and several  of her future teammates during her recruiting trip to UDC.

On the court, team captain Janelle finished second on the team in scoring and she is also doing the job in the classroom. An Administration of Justice major, Janelle has a GPA which stands over 3.7 and had a perfect 4.0 last spring. Following graduation, she hopes to find a career in Homeland Security and is considering starting that path by entering the Air Force.  A leader on the court, Janelle also brings those talents to her involvement in activities on campus, especially on the UDC SAAC where she serves as Secretary.  

Janelle has clearly made an impact in her short time at UDC, as shown by what the UDC athletic staff had to say:

Janelle is a team captain and standout on the women’s basketball team.  She is an exceptional leader and role model for younger team members and other student-athletes.  She serves as secretary of the UDC SAAC and is very active in that capacity. …Janelle is a leader on the court and in the team’s community service efforts.  The women’s basketball team won the Competition Cup at UDC, which is an annual award presented to the program that has the highest average GPA, participates in the most community service, and exhibits the highest school spirit by attending other team’s athletic event.  Janelle was a driving force behind the women’s basketball community service efforts and their Competition Cup victory.

As she notes in this January 2013 interview, Janelle’s experience as a student-athlete and leader at UDC has had a big impact on her and she has had a positive impact on UDC as well.

Janelle, can you tell me why you chose to attend UDC?
I chose UDC because of its women’s basketball program. I didn’t know about the school really because I am from the west coast. Besides the fact that I wanted to move away from what I was used to and explore something new, my coach and future teammates made me feel really welcome when I came to visit the school. I liked the atmosphere of Washington, DC as well. After knowing I could receive a good education from the school, I decided that this was the place for me.

Why did you get involved in SAAC at UDC?  Are you involved in any other extracurricular activities?
This is my first year being a part of SAAC. I was chosen by my coach to be a representative in SAAC and I  quickly became the secretary for it. I’m glad I am a part of SAAC, because it gives me the chance to make a difference on campus and in the community and to express concerns to the higher-ups in our athletic department about my concerns as a student-athlete and those of others who are on teams.

As a leader in SAAC, what are some of the important projects you have been involved in while at UDC? Why are these important efforts?
At the start of the semester, we put on a back-to-school event for the student-athletes where we had an ice cream social and then a pick-up volleyball game afterwards. We were doing this to welcome back current students and welcome new  team memers.  Also, this year we helped out with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We sold bracelets and donated all the money to the foundation. We also plan on doing another welcome back party at the start of our spring semester and doing a food drive this year.
Why are athletics important to you?
Athletics are important to me because they are in my blood. My mother and father were athletes, even though neither one of them played basketball, they still instilled that competitive drive in me. Sports are just fun to me, and I love playing basketball. I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t playing basketball. It has brought me a long way in my life and has allowed me to travel and meet new people. I think sports are important to be involved in, because it can teach life lessons and overall just keeps you in shape.

Why should students and student-athletes attend UDC?
I think people should attend UDC because it is a diverse campus and you can experience the city life by attending the university. If people like a small setting type of university where you can really get to know your teachers and receive a good education, then UDC is also the place for them. Our sports programs are pretty successful and will get better in the future as well.

To hear the full interview with Janelle, click on the link below.

Janelle Junior Interview

Former Student-Athlete: Amadou Gallo Fall ('93), Men's Basketball

The story of Amadou Gallo Fall’s journey to the U.S., the University of the District of Columbia and now to an important leadership position with the National Basketball Association is one of hard work,  determination and achievement.  Growing up in Senegal, Amadou began playing basketball as a teenager with the Dakar University Club. While attending a clinic, he met a representative from the Peace Corps who helped him learn of an opportunity to enroll at  UDC on a basketball scholarship.

A 6-foot-9 center, Fall started in all 30 games for University of the District of Columbia in the 1989-90 season, during which he averaged 6.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per-game for the Firebirds. His career was cut short due to a wrist injury, but he went on to graduate magna cum laude in 1993 with a degree in Biology.

Upon graduation, Fall went on to work for the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Senegalese Basketball Federation. He helped build a strong squad which  won the 1997 African Championship and went on to participate in the 1998 World Championship. Building contacts and knowledge in international basketball, Amadou was hired in 1998 to be a scout for the Dallas Mavericks. He moved from that job to the role of Director of Player Personnel and Vice President of International Affairs, and served in that capacity for 12 years. In 2010, Fall was appointed Vice President of Development for the NBA in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he leads the NBA’s efforts to develop and promote basketball in Africa.

As Amadou notes in an article discussing the NBA and Africa partnership, “The opportunity for basketball in Africa is tremendous and we are poised to use the excitement of the NBA brand to grow the sport. NBA Africa offers an exciting proposition to all partners looking for a fresh global sports property that is committed and deepening its roots in Africa.”   His work was the focus of a recent piece on CNN:

In this interview podcast taped in January 2013, Amadou discussed his time at UDC and what those experiences meant to him and his personal development including the chance to meet and study with a really diverse group of students and professors and to play the game he had come to love.  He also spoke about his work in pro basketball and especially the exciting opportunities he has with NBA Africa.  One of the big efforts Amadou discusses in this interview is the work the NBA is doing in developing the game through the program “Basketball Without Borders”  a developmental program that goes beyond the sport to encourage education and social responsibility.  The program also is aimed  at  improving  the quality of basketball in Africa by working with coaches, athletes and officials and to also  use  basketball as a tool  for development.

A true man of the world, Amadou Gallo Fall has not forgotten his time at UDC and what that meant to him and the person he is  today.  He is committed to helping others grow and flourish and have a chance to gain opportunities to become successful.

To hear the interview with Amadou, click on the links below.

Amadou Gallo Fall Interview - Part One
Amadou Gallo Fall Interview - Part Two

Faculty Member with Outstanding Support for Athletics: Sandra Jowers-Barber, Ph.D.

Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber has been teaching history at UDC since 2006.  She received both her doctorate in US History and her MA in Public History from Howard University and along with teaching duties at UDC, she also coordinates the History Program and directs the Oral History Project.

When asked to suggest  a faculty member at UDC who has made an impact both in the classroom and in support of student-athletes, Athletic Director Patricia Thomas and her staff were quick to nominate Dr. Jowers-Barber:

Dr. Jowers-Barber goes above and beyond to mentor student-athletes and motivate them to reach their potential. She is currently mentoring two of our student-athletes and has mentored others in the past.  She is presently assisting Milton Colquehoun (History major) of men’s basketball as he prepares for graduation and a career as a history teacher in the greater Washington, D.C. area. She is also working with Mario Banegas (double major in Political Science and History) of men’s soccer as he attempts to acquire an internship on Capitol Hill and prepares to attend graduate school. Dr. Jowers-Barber continues to stay in contact in a mentorship capacity with women’s basketball student-athletes, Julissa Anderson and Janelle Junior.  She teaches the student-athletes to use the leadership skills they gain from collegiate athletics and transfer it to the real world. She is an avid fan of our basketball programs and attends many home contests.

In the attached podcast interview that was completed in January 2013, Dr. Jowers-Barber discusses some of her work as a professor and historian at UDC including the Oral History Project which gives students a hands on  experience with the history of their communities.  She is a “Public Historian” – dedicated to engaging her students and  helping  them see that history is learned both in the classroom and outside that space, too.  The Oral History program connects students with other individuals in the campus and surrounding communities, where they document and chronicle the changes and developments that have impacted these areas.  She is also involved in an ongoing research project that focuses on documenting and interpreting the history of the African American deaf community.  Along with her academic work at UDC, Dr. Jowers-Barber spoke about her involvement with athletics at the University as well as what makes UDC a special place.

Dr. Jowers-Barber was asked about this mentor role, helping UDC student athletes as they finish their studies and prepare for career or future academic pursuits. How and why did you take on this mentor type role?
I have been very fortunate to have had informed and caring advisors while an undergraduate. I also had and continue to have excellent mentors. They provide invaluable professional guidance and possess wonderful listening skills. I always knew that those two individuals, advisors and mentors, were keys to student success. I thought that former Georgetown coach, John Thompson, Sr., had it right when the team’s academic advisor, Mary Fenlon sat on the bench with the team.

Do you have any special connection to athletics in general? If so, where does that come from?
I am a great sports fan and ran track in junior high school. I wasn’t gifted enough to go further but my parents always stressed education and the importance of it over any skill in sports. I often heard the statement, “If you break your leg you are finished. If you have a great education you can always soar.” Additionally, I always felt that student athletes were unfairly burdened. Many times they battle the stigma of being viewed as “athletes but not scholars.” They are one of the populations on campus where the student body knows how well they did in their respective sports, especially if it were basketball or football, and how well they do academically, especially if they do not graduate on time. I want my students to understand that being gifted and talented in sports should be balanced with being gifted and talented in academics. At a minimum the same amount of practice that goes into their sport should be given to their courses. The same amount of thought that goes into understanding play diagrams and learning patterns should go into developing career plans and making academic to become the best they can be in their sport.

Can you briefly discuss what you think the place is of athletics at a university? What do you see as the value based on your experience of working with some of the student athletes?
I think that athletics is a valuable asset for a university. It allows students to support fellow students in sports that build community, team pride and for many institutions provide national recognition that translates into added revenue. …. Athletics has provided a pathway for a college education. When student athletes are positively motivated to be students first and then athletes and are given the appropriate mentoring and advising they can bring renown to the institution and obtain an education. I think that we are in an age when there is more scrutiny of college student athletes and their ability to graduate in a timely manner and I think that is a good thing.
Why is UDC a good school to teach at and a good place for students to attend?
The University of the District of Columbia looks at the entire student and provides a holistic education. We are concerned with cultivating a global student who can navigate locally with the ability to provide answers to large questions affecting their neighborhoods and the city as a whole. The faculty who support those goals are constantly refining, enhancing and providing challenging and engaging pedagogy that seeks to assist students in thinking critically, writing clearly and forming creative solutions to 21st century issues.

To hear the full interview with Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber, click on the links below.

Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber Interview - Part One
Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber Interview - Part Two

Community Engagement: UDC Men's Soccer Hosts Second Annual Youth Day

At the University of the District of Columbia, UDC student-athletes are rigorously encouraged
to pursue community service and engagement as part of their participation in
sports programs. Both UDC and the East Coast Conference create each year a series of
events to support the community including ongoing efforts with the Make-A-Wish
Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. UDC Athletics is truly committed to making a difference in their Washington D.C. community.

As part of their efforts in the community, this past fall, the University of the District of Columbia men’s soccer team hosted its second annual Youth Day event on Saturday, September 15th prior to  its East Coast Conference clash with LIU Post. Over 30 of the area’s youth soccer players came to UDC Soccer Field to participate in the event, and several served as ball runners during the Firebirds’ afternoon game.

Second-year head coach Matt Thompson and his assistant Danny Wadeson welcomed the participants and introduced them to the Firebirds team. From 12:30-1:30 p.m., the coaching staff and players hosted a skills clinic which focused on passing, receiving, possession, shooting, and short sided games. The Firebirds players worked with small groups to teach the young, eager players the sport’s fundamentals.

Following the skill session, there was an open forum for the youth players and the Firebird team members to socialize. The Firebirds signed autographs and posed for pictures with the youth players as did the Firebird mascot.

Many of the event participants stayed to take in the Firebirds’ ECC slate with No. 17 ranked LIU Post, including several who served as ball runners on both sidelines.

“The Youth Day event was a huge success. The feedback I got was that the kids thoroughly enjoyed the entire day,” Thompson said. “We really benefitted from having them there cheering us on during the game as well. They really rallied behind us as we battled a man down, and that was a really great thing to see.”