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'My leadership as a captain doesn’t stay on the court': Inside the growth of All Vote No Play
Two years after All Vote No Play’s launch, the movement has turned into a robust organization geared at boosting civic participation with student athletes at its helm
In 2020, college basketball coach Eric Reveno, who was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech at the time, started the #AllVoteNoPlay movement and encouraged the NCAA to make Election Day a league-wide day off with a mission to inspire civic participation amongst college athletes.
Coach Reveno, who’s now the assistant coach at Oregon State, along with Stanford associate professor and designer in residence Lisa Kay Solomon, developed a nonpartisan “civic playbook” of “drills” to help student athletes learn, engage, gather, and vote.
In a conversation with Solomon, she described the playbook as “by student athletes and for student athletes.” The activities are geared specifically toward college athletes, and include suggestions for supplemental materials such as the documentary on the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s campaign for equal pay and a reading about the WNBA and NBA’s push to use their arenas for voting.
“It’s about shrinking the gap between being civically overwhelmed and confused to civic action and engagement,” Solomon said.
Two years after All Vote No Play’s launch, the movement has turned into a robust organization geared at boosting civic participation with student athletes at its helm.
To learn more, I chatted with Elizabeth Ford, captain of University of Pennsylvania’s women’s volleyball team who is 22-years-old and grew up in Glenview, Illinois, and Sam Beskind, former co-captain of the Stanford men’s basketball team who’s now playing his fifth year of NCAA eligibility at Colorado School of Mines. Beskind, who is also 22, grew up in Tucson, Arizona.
Asked about the link between being a student athlete and civic engagement, Ford, who’s also the deputy director of Penn Leads the Vote (an on campus nonpartisan voter engagement organization) described a certain “scrappiness” that’s needed both on the court and to mobilize voters.
“Similar to being an athlete, you have to take risks. They won’t always pay off but sometimes they do in a great way,” Ford said. “It’s a lot of guessing and checking, trying and failing. Trying to reach out to whoever you can,” she said.
“My leadership as a captain doesn’t stay on the court,” Ford said, adding that, “As long as players are given the resources and opportunities to get involved, there seems to be a reasonable interest in helping out and playing to our influence on campus and in the community.”
On Election Day, Ford and athletes from the women’s lacrosse and soccer teams, will be making “I Voted” stickers and helping Penn students check their on-campus polling location.
“Being a good citizen is just like being a good teammate, and so that’s that inherent connection that kind of motivated the entire movement,” Beskind said about All Vote No Play.
“Student athletes, through their training, through their collaboration with teammates and going through adversity, you learn how to work with people that you don’t necessarily like, you learn how to lead, you learn how to get through hard times, you learn how to come together as a unified group and those are all skills that are at play as a citizen,” Beskind said.
Both Beskind and Ford spoke about the platform student athletes have on campuses across the U.S. and how they can leverage it, especially given the NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness policy.
“Student athletes have a great opportunity to leverage those skills to be good citizens off the court and to utilize their platform for good. The platform is growing with the new legislation, ‘name, image, and likeness.’ Youth in their communities look up to student athletes… not only at Stanford, in any community in the U.S.,” Beskind said.
One prime example of that was last week, when Ford spoke at Philly’s Early Vote Day event at City Hall.
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‘No other politician is doing it like he is’: Bernie Sanders rallies young voters
In an effort to excite young voters, NextGen America and MoveOn Political Action (a progressive PAC) are hosting nine GOTV rallies with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as part of the “Our Future is Now” tour.
“The whole idea is that Bernie recognizes the urgency of turning out young voters this cycle,” said Kristi Johnston, press secretary for NextGen America.
“He knows he’s the youth vote candidate,” she said, referencing young people’s support of Bernie during the 2020 primary cycle.
Asked why the group chose an 81-year-old white man to rally a base of young voters, Johnston said it’s about policy and not identity politics.
“Bernie is one of the few politicians that are speaking to the issues young people care about. He’s way more in tune with what young people want to see economically and in other civil rights areas,” Johnston said, pointing explicitly to raising the minimum wage and abortion access.
“No other politician is doing it like he is.”
The “Our Future is Now” tour started last week in Reno, Nevada, with stops in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Austin, Texas. On Friday, Sanders, NextGen, and MoveOn will make three Wisconsin stops including: Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Madison. On Saturday, they’ll visit Ann Arbor, Michigan, and on Sunday they’ll be in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Speaking of Wisconsin…
Check out this photo 🤳 of generations of #youthvote friends all doing GOTV work in Wisconsin. From left to right: Ben Wessel, former executive director of NextGen America, Ellen Sciales, communications director for Sunrise Movement, and Teddy Landis, a veteran youth organizer who turned out young voters in WI in 2020 & previously ran voter engagement at Snapchat. Throughout the week they’re supporting Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon’s ‘For Wisconsin’ tour to inspire young voters across Wisconsin.
“These three veterans of youthvote organizing descended on UW-Stevens Point’s campus in rural Wisconsin today to give a boost to local organizing efforts, getting nearly 500 pledges to vote in one day!,” Wessel said.
TUNE IN TONIGHT! 🎬
Tune in tonight at 8pm EST for PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs’ ‘We the Young People, Moments of Truth’ hosted by teen reporters Tiffany Rodriguez & Berto Suarez. The special showcases the voices of young people as the 2022 U.S. midterms get underway.
Sign up for the livestream here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/we-the-young-people-moments-of-truth-tickets-428083728957
Take a peak at the BTS here: