Black Excellence in Sport and Action Panel

The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles hosted the Black Excellence in Sport and Action panel, a discussion between professional athletes about social justice topics. Over 100 student athletes and future leaders participated in the virtual panel from over 23 middle schools and high schools in the greater Los Angeles area.

Kiesha Nix, Executive Director of Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation moderated the panel discussion with professional athletes on how they excel in sport and drive social change. Guests included Blake Bolden of the LA Kings, Jordan Fuller of the LA Rams, and Rushia Brown of the LA Sparks. The event highlighted UCLA Gymnast Nia Dennis and her “Black Excellence” floor routine.

“Today we see players, teams, leagues standing up against racial injustice, addressing racial inequalities, and trying to impact communities of color. This is what the Alliance stands for.” – Kiesha Nix

Blake Bolden, a professional scout for the LA Kings said, “change has no offseason.” She works to be a role model in her community and aims to diversify the sport of hockey. She started playing hockey as a young kid in Cleveland, Ohio. The former Boston College women’s hockey captain broke ground on the professional level as the first black woman to be drafted in the first round in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for the Boston Blades. She broke the color barrier for the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015 where she played for the Boston Pride. Now, Blake uses her expertise and experience to help the LA Kings prep for big games as the first black female pro scout in NHL history.

Jordan Fuller, a safety for the LA Rams, completed an impressive rookie year in the NFL. A student athlete at Ohio State, he captained the football team and was an Academic Heisman finalist. He emphasized the importance of academics and family. He values having his older brother as a role model in all aspects of his life. He looks forward to participating in more events and programs with youth in the Los Angeles community.

Rushia Brown, the LA Sparks Director of Community Relations and Youth Sports elaborated on her organization’s growing social justice pillar and her involvement in workshops with youth. She discusses the importance of passion and tells students to “find something that you love and do that.” She says, “Your passion is perseverance, attitude, sacrifice, setting goals, inner strength, optimism, and never giving up – with those seven qualities you put yourself in a position to be successful no matter what capacity you are in. Stay Focused.”

Nia Dennis, a UCLA gymnast is known for her Black Excellence floor routine that went viral. She answered student athlete questions about her collegiate career and discussed her excitement about her participation in an upcoming Black Lives Matter meet. She looks forward to winning an NCAA championship and a future career in the entertainment industry.

These athletes exemplify the importance of taking action in regard to social justice issues. The panel participants encouraged youth to remain active, educated, and to persevere to accomplish their goals.