Sports Backers Blog

Scholar-Athletes are the New ALL Stars in Town!

After 32 years of working alongside the Richmond Times-Dispatch to award the region’s best and brightest scholar-athletes through our longest-standing program, Sports Backers has revamped the Scholar-Athlete program to increase our collective impact in the community. We will continue awarding scholarships to scholar-athletes but with a new format that allows our organizations to also contribute to the students development as leaders, both on and off the court.

ALL Star students work together during orientation.

The program, now known as the Active Living Leadership ALL Stars program, provides education, hands-on experiences, and mentorship to a cohort of 20 ALL Star student-athletes during their senior year. ALL Stars meet for educational opportunities designed to explore what contributes to an active community, existing inequities, and how to make a difference in the community. They get to experience active living initiatives firsthand through participation and volunteerism with local active living organizations.

The Fab Four Crew

Throughout the program, ALL Stars work together in small groups (crews) with the support of mentors, who have dedicated their time and expertise to supporting our ALL Star students. The students are assigned reading materials, videos, and podcasts to further their knowledge and discuss within their crews. Towards the end of their time in the program, each crew will work together, with the support of their mentors, to complete a capstone project that addresses an identified need in the active living community.

Through active participation and completion of program requirements, ALL Stars earn a $2,500 scholarship. Additional scholarship awards will be available, so there is opportunity to earn more. We will celebrate their accomplishments during a graduation ceremony in May of 2024.

These young leaders are being exposed to concepts they might not otherwise have experienced, learning how they can contribute to improving active living in our community, and being given the tools to make a difference. They will have an immediate impact in our community through their volunteer efforts and capstone projects. What is yet to be seen is the future impact this program will have through the relationships developed, connections made, and passions fueled.

This first cohort of 20 is the first of many, as this is a program that will be offered each year to a select group of scholar-athletes from across the region. Fast forward five years down the road and there will be 100 local scholar-athletes that have served as volunteers with active living organizations, addressed identified needs to improve active living in communities across our region, and learned how they can be an agent of change. This initial cohort will have graduated college by then, will have been given the opportunity to mentor future cohorts, and will be starting their careers. That compounding effect – from the growing number being trained over the years to the cyclical nature of the ALL Stars then giving back to the program and our community as a whole – is what could truly move the needle.

The first cohort of ALL Stars.

Looking into the near future, a mere five years away, is certainly exciting. But for now our focus is on supporting the first-ever cohort of ALL Stars, executing this new program format to the best of our ability, and learning from the current students and mentors how we can make the program even better for future years. We know that with this ALL Star team of students and mentors, the future of active living is looking bright!

2023-2024 ALL Star Students

Angelica Acosta – Cristo Rey Richmond High School
Annie Adamson – Saint Gertrude High School
Anthony Allen, Jr. – Richmond Community High School & Armstrong High School
Lauren Blake – Maggie L Walker Governor’s School
Ethan Choe – Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School
Jalen Copeland – Hanover High School
Liam Gordon – Appomattox Regional Governor’s School
Kylie Jenkins – Godwin High School
Declan Keith – Trinity episcopal
Julia Mann Mill – Godwin High School
Matthew McGovern – Thomas Dale High School
Alex Percey – Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School
Lily Ricci – Deep Run High School
Breyona Robinson – Hermitage High School
Jaydn Sears – Thomas Dale High School
Lilly Versen – Trinity Episcopal School
Tucker Washburn – Mills E. Godwin High School
Amirah Washington – Monacan High School
Ellie Wood – Douglas Freeman High School
Caroline Wulff – St. Catherine’s School

2023-2024 ALL Star Mentors

Gray Broughton – Davidson College & Washington & Lee University School of Law alum
Jailah Channer – Virginia Commonwealth University student
Katie Daniel – Longwood University alum
Sean Dougherty – University of South Carolina alum
Caroline Harvey – University of Virginia alum
Lexi Long – Stanford University alum
Lauren Murphy – Princeton University alum
J.C. Poma – University of Virginia & Georgetown University alum
Jackie Stoneburner – Virginia Tech alum
Pete Woody – Virginia Tech alum


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