Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 6 | June 2022

ATHLETICSANNUALREPORT 12 Inside Hokie Sports Virginia Tech Athletics has made a concerted effort in recent years in the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The 2021-2022 academic year was no exception, with multiple events and initiatives implemented that used cooperation across the entire athletic department. Student-Athlete Development has championed efforts to make all Hokies, regardless of race, background, or gender, feel heard and included during their time in Blacksburg. LOVE Initiative Originally inaugurated in 2020, the Virginia Tech “LOVE” project continued into 2021-2022. The #LOVE video played before each home sporting event with a PSA from current student-athletes. The logo representing the project has a design that represents the values of our athletics community and our university. With the collaboration of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the #LOVE: Our Black Community initiative was launched during Black History Month in February 2022. This groundbreaking effort was aimed to elevate and celebrate Black voices, culture, and history, while highlighting the positive perceptions of Black love in our university community. Throughout the February 10-13 weekend, multiple events displaying the love of our Black community took place at Cassell Coliseum during a total of two home basketball games and one wrestling match. This important weekend included: an ICAT projection on the side of Cassell Coliseum showing local Black artists’ work, #LOVE Our Black Community T-Shirts worn by student-athletes as well as a fan giveaway, the highlighting of Black student-athlete trailblazers Dianne Epps and Jerry Gaines, public display of both student-athletes’ and fans’ messages on HokieVision, and halftime performances from VTDITC Spoken Word and Exodus Dance group. ESPNW Campus Conversations Virginia Tech was chosen as one of six sites in the country for ESPNW’S Campus Conversations series in 2022. A large portion of the female student-athlete population was in attendance for a speaking panel moderated by ESPN senior writer Heather Dinich. Virginia Tech alumni populated most of the panel, including Olympic Bronze Medalist Kristi Castlin, Lowe’s Senior Class Award Candidate and former volleyball captain Jaila Tolbert, and former ESPN/ FOX Sports analyst and soccer defender Morgan Bowen. ESPN senior director of marketing Michelle Berry joined them on the panel to discuss their experiences inside and outside of athletics in their college and professional careers. After the panel, female student-athletes were encouraged to attend breakout sessions with members of the panel, as well as additional alumni attendees MC Byrne (Lacrosse ‘19), Kai Young (Volleyball, ‘21) and Jen Price (Basketball, ‘95). SAAC Unity Walk Led by SAAC, more than 60 student-athletes, coaches, and staff joined together in a unity walk around campus on October 27, 2021. The event aimed to foster a dialogue on the pivotal moments revolving around race in our country over the previous two years, and how those same moments affected the student-athlete experience at Virginia Tech. Speakers included SAAC President and Men’s Soccer’s Kahlil Dover, Volleyball head coach Marci Byers, and Track & Field’s Essence Henderson. Student-athletes devote concerted effort to make community inclusive Student-athletes and staff group outside of Cassell Coliseum at conclusion of SAAC Unity Walk.