Hope the month of July and early August has gone well for all of you!
Time has flown by since I returned to Duke from my internship in Washington, D.C., with North Carolina Congressman David Price.
I’ve since been through a month of strength and conditioning workouts with the whole team, getting to know our new freshmen and starting to prepare for our European Tour. We’ve all had a great summer, made even better by some incredible moments we’ve witnessed at the Olympics —Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas, Sanya Richards-Ross, Oscar Pistorius and of course USA Basketball.
We’ve talked a lot as a team about what we can learn from those athletes and assistant coach Joy Cheek reminded us the other day about how inspiring it is to see Title IX play out on an international scale. For the first time, every country in the Olympics has a female athlete competing. And while there’s a lot of work to be done still, women, especially those on American teams, have been unbelievable in London. One of my favorite stories was that of Kayla Harrison—the first American to ever win gold in judo, after overcoming the scars of sexual abuse by a former coach.
Fortunately for me, my last two weeks in D.C., coincided with the 40th anniversary of Title IX and I got to go to a few of the events there celebrating the anniversary.
I watched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launch the “Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports” initiative and the Global Sports Mentoring Program, which works with espnW to connect American women sports leaders with emerging women leaders around the world.
I also got to play with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice and WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw, along with players from the George Washington, Georgetown and Howard women’s teams, in games held at the Department of Interior gym in honor of Title IX.
While there, I spoke with Secretary Duncan about our upcoming season and also with the First Lady’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen, who invited me to lunch at the White House. A few days later, I had to pinch myself as Ted Chiodo, a friend of Reggie Love (see below) showed me around the West Wing, right outside the Oval Office, through the Rose Garden, the Map Room, Diplomatic Room, China Room and the East Room. I shared lunch with Ms. Tchen and Hallie Schneir, who manages White House outreach to Women and Girls across the country. We ate in the Navy Mess, right next to the Situation Room, and spoke about their work and how I can use my position as a student-athlete at Duke to help. After lunch, I got a box of the exclusive White House edition M&Ms and a box of truffles as a souvenir.
I was able to meet up with former Duke football/basketball standout Reggie Love and one of his colleagues from his time as President Obama’s body man. Reggie had some great advice for me as I think about basketball beyond the collegiate level and possibly a career in international relations.
Back here in Durham, we had a month of summer strength and conditioning workouts, culminating in a great mile-and-a-half run at the end of July. And now, after officially practicing for almost a week now, we’re ready to let Allison Vernerey show us around France!
Be sure to check in on GoDuke for updates during our trip!