Verizon event and weeks to come

This past Friday Sport in Society hosted an event for the Verizon Foundation.  This event was really interesting because we got to hear a lot of interesting stories and also got to hear from college football hall of famer Don McPherson.  Also I meet a lot of interesting people as well as catch up with a few people i have meet in the past.  Another event that i am looking forward to is the YMCA/Sport in Society meeting that is happening thus upcoming Thursday.  Myself and the other coops are very interested in what will happen at the meeting because we have come up with a few ideas that could really help the YMCA staff/employees.


Tom Demers

Quick Updates

Sport in Society Co-ops have been working very hard these past few weeks meeting with Executive and Teen Directors from the YMCA’s of Greater Boston. After interviewing with each branch, we have collected their data and formed a power point presentation on our findings and recommendations for the senior VP of operations, Harold Sparrow.

This meeting went extremely well, and the co-ops and Harold all felt inspired and motivated to keep the ball rolling. Some of the recommendations that will probably go into effect is a new database system. The co-ops felt that teen directors could really benefit from sharing resources and “tapping into the experts.” Another suggestion we have made was to utilize pre and post test for programs. We felt that this system will keep the teen directors more organized and it will be easier for them to evaluate their programs in the end.

The Co-ops and I are really excited for our future meetings with Harold and the rest of the Executive and Teen Directors. This is our main project at Sport in Society and we are now feeling like we are making some sort of an impact in the YMCA’s.


posted by: Elizabeth Stern



Ending with a Bang!!!

This past tuesday, Tom and I finished our last Project Teamwork session at Point Webster middle school. It’s been a great last 4 weeks there and to be honest, I was a little disappointed that we wasn’t going to be coming here anymore. They were fun to be around and they enjoyed us being there as well. So for the last session, we continued our discussion about stereotypes, discrimination and conflict resolution of other people. We showed them a video called “Flipped”, in which it was produced by MTV and is similar to show “Punked”. In this video, they talked about people who discriminated against people who were overweight and homosexual. So two of the people were used as an example and were set up to live a day in a life as an overweight person and a homosexual. The girl Amber was the overweight girl, and Adam was the homosexual. The catch was that they didn’t know they were set up to be this way. So they both got to live a day in a life as them and by the end of the video, both of their perceptions changed and vowed never to make such mockery of people who are overweight and homosexual.

After the video, we had a discussion with the children about their thoughts and reactions. The message seemed to hit home with them as some of the kids in the class shared their experiences about how they were made fun of because of their appearance. Some were made fun of because of their weight, others because of how tall or how short they are and they expressed how they felt and the actions they took. They expressed that they were sad and angry, and did nothing about it. But, some expressed that were mad at first but, just laughed it off. Then I ask the kids a question referring to Tom. I asked them by looking at Tom, did they think there was anything wrong with him. The majority of them said no, so I asked Tom if he could share the issues he deals with it. So when Tom talked about his disabilities, the kids couldn’t believed it. Then I proceed to tell them that you can never judge a book by its cover because you’ll never know, case and point, Tom.

At the end of the session, as the kids were leaving class, this one kid, who I’ll leave his name unknown, pulled me to the side and wanted to tell me something. He told me that that he was teased a lot by his peers about how his appearance. He said it hurts a lot and I just told him that you shouldn’t worry about what other people going to say and that at the end of the day, people are going to talk, and that he is just as normal as Me, Tom, and anybody else. He definitely felt a lot better once I said that. Just for him to be comfortable enough to tell me that, with him barely even knowing me, made me feel great about myself and also the work Tom and I have been doing. I felt like this experenice was successful.

Now that Point Webster is done, it’s on to East Boston at McKay Middle School.

GForce Sports Presentation

Last night Sport in Society and Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies co-hosted GForce Sports as they presented their “Invisible Athlete” forum.  Boston’s Bean Pot schools were fully represented as the men and women’s ice hockey teams from each institution piled into the room.  The event was open to the public and many chose to stand in the back just to get a chance to listen to the panel.  Patrick Burke, current scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and brother of the late Brendan Burke, emceed the event.  Brendan courageously came out to his University of Miami hockey team in November of 2009 and was the first person associated with the NHL to be openly gay.  Not two months later, Brendan was tragically killed in a car accident.  Patrick declared, “Since that time our family has vowed to pick up where Brendan left off.”

The “Invisible Athlete” forum is both in memoriam of Brendan Burke and a means to discuss LGBT topics in a predominantly heterosexual environment.  An accomplished athletic trio made up the panel, including, Andrew Goldstein, former Major League Lacrosse standout and the first openly gay male athlete in professional team-sports, Lee-J Mirasolo, current assistant coach for Princeton University and former women’s hockey team captain at Boston College, and David Farber, who became one of the first openly gay college athletes while playing hockey for the University of Pennsylvania.  The panel spoke about their reasons for coming out when they did and the positive impact it has had in their personal lives as well as the world of sport.

Patrick asked the panel a series of questions relative to coming out, locker room atmosphere, their roles as leaders, and any negatives they may have experienced as a result of coming out.  Andrew, Lee-J and David were honest, poised, and relatable when answering sensitive questions.  The speakers were engaging and welcomed both public and anonymous questions from the audience.

The act of coming out to friends, family and teammates was a recurring theme throughout the evening.  Coming out is brave enough, but it was the athlete’s reasoning for coming out which was most admirable. The panel described coming out not solely for themselves but for any LGBT individual who may feel trapped.  For the college athlete scared to lose his/her spot on the team roster, the high school teen thinking that suicide is the only option, or the professional athlete who is ashamed to admit who they truly are.  Andrew, for example, announced on ESPN that he was gay.  This intrepid act was essentially for his younger self who longed for a gay role model in professional sports.  Andrew never had that role model growing up so he in turn became one for countless others.

“Invisible Athlete” couldn’t have touched a better audience.  College athletes should better understand their surroundings and that sometimes their words can be degrading.  Though they may not intend to offend their teammate, friend, coach or even their opponent, demeaning words and phrases are still demeaning.  I hope that the panel sparked a larger acceptance of LGBT athletes, as that is a fundamental component of a team’s growth and success.  If possible, I would ask that the “Invisible Athlete” group speak to every team at Northeastern in order to open the minds of college athletes and inspire those looking for resolution.

Posted by: Courtney Mortimer

The John Carlos Story

Last Friday night, Sport in Society co-hosted an evening with John Carlos as he gave a presentation and signed copies of his new autobiography, The John Carlos Story.  Four of Sport in Society’s co-op students attended the book signing eager to meet such an iconic Olympic athlete.  Their expectations were surpassed as Carlos spoke about growing up in Harlem and the life lessons that brought him to the Olympic stage.

John Carlos spoke about his journey to the medal stand and how he always believed he was destined to be greater than his surroundings.  As a young man Carlos was passionate about equality and met with civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.  Carlos captivated the room filled with community members, international students from England and Northeastern student-athletes as he shared his life story.

After the presentation, Carlos generously signed copies of his book and made conversation with anyone interested.  Carlos left a lasting impression on those in attendance and will continue to inspire those looking to promote social justice in the world through the vehicle of sport.

Courtney Mortimer, Elizabeth Stern and Ronnie Townsend 

SIS outreach from Mattapan, to Quincy, to East Boston

Over the past few weeks at Sport In Society, the other coops and myself have been working on many various project.  Last Friday, we were part of the second batch of volunteers to go back to the Mattahunt School in Mattapan to complete the painting of an outdoor basketball court and new track.  It was really cool for us to go back because the staff that ran the community event the week before remembered us and was happy to see us back there helping out the community.

Also Demetrius and I are eager to work go back to the Point Webster Middle School in Quincy, MA. to complete out 3rd of 4 training sessions.  In this upcoming session we’ll be learning about stereotypes using a worksheet called, Passing Grades to help make out point.  So far the 7th and 8th graders at Point Webster have been a pleasure to come and talk to because they seem to be committed to learning about social problems and ways to combat them.

As well as doing trainings at Point Webster, I am excited to begin training at the McKay School in East Boston within the next couple of weeks.

Posted by Thomas Demers

Doing work at Point Webster

Since the last time I blogged, I talked about that myself and Tom was doing some training for middle school students at Point Webster Middle School about Project Teamwork. This past week, we just finished our second session, and everything has been great so far. I feel more and more comfortable talking in front a large group of kids. I feel as though I’ve been doing this for at least 10 years but, I quickly adapted to the new environment and it feels good. This past tuesday, we talked about using the words such as “gay” and “fag” in school, and how that can be hurtful or disrespectful to some people. The kids expressed that they do hear and use those words to describle how they feel about something in a negative way. What I talked to them about was, what if they were using those words to someone who was actually “gay” or know someone, whether it be a friend or family member who was actually like that. They also expressed that there are other words you can use but those are the most commonly used. Then, I expressed to them that they have to really think about the words they use to express something that’s negative because to some people, those type of words such as “gay” or “fag” can hurt people. I remember growing up, I would have teachers who would say the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.” I doubt if anybody follows that saying anymore, maybe. At the end of the day, you can’t really put the blame on these kids because they hear the words being used from people they around, and the people they heard it from, heard it from someone else. That’s just how society is with negativity period, kids catch on to it because although they’re growing up into teenagers, their brains are still like sponges and that’s something we as a society has to change.

Posted by: Demetrius Biggs

Invisible Athletes

On October 17th from 6-8pm at the Sunday School Building in the Christian Science Plaza, Sport in Society will host GForce Sports as they present Invisible Athletes.  Invisible Athletes is a program about gay athletes, straight allies and changing locker rooom attitudes.  A panel of gay and lesbian athletes will present their personal stories and experience.  Some of the featured panelists include:

David Farber, a former captain of the University of Pennsylvania’s hockey team, now working for the US Department of Justice in New York

Dr. Andrew Goldstein, a former Dartmouth University All-American and professional lacrosse player, now a molecular biologist and UCLA professor

Lee-J Mirasolo, a former Boston College women’s hockey team captain and current Princeton University assistant coach.

The panel will be moderated by Patrick Burke who’s brother Brendan couragelously came out to his Miami University’s teammates in 2009 prior to his passing in a fatal car accident.

Hopefully all 8 hockey teams from Boston Beanpot schools will be in attendance and the event is open to the public as well.  Below is the flyer for the event offering more details:

Posted by: Courtney Mortimer

Moving forward at Sport In Society

Last week the co-ops and I were able to attend a Celtics CommUnity service event.  This event was really fun.  The co-ops and I were part of group number six and were given the community room as a project.  This project required us to work on a large mural and paint panels on the walls as well as put quotes from famous individuals on decorative boards and place them around the room.  This event was not only cool for us because we were helping the kids of Mattahunt School in Mattapan, we also were able to meet Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics, Scott Brown and Deval Patrick.

This upcoming week Demetrius and I will be going back to Point Webster Middle School in Quincy to do more trainings for the students about social justice.  Our first training session last Tuesday was very fun for both us and the students because we got to know interesting things about each other and teach kids for the first time.  Also on tap for next Demetrius and I will be going out to the Dorchester YMCA and talking with the teen director of the YMCA.

I am looking forward to these upcoming weeks here at Sport In Society, as things pick up and we can start smart making ideas based on our interviews/talks with the Executive directors and Teen directors of the YMCAs.

Posted by Thomas Demers