Statesman and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
University of the Ozarks will celebrate The Power of Sport as its theme for the 2016-17 Walton Arts & Ideas Series, which kicks off on Sept. 11 with a talk from former U.S. women’s soccer standout Brandi Chastain.
The Walton Arts & Ideas Series (WAIS), which began at Ozarks in 1992 through an endowed gift by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, is celebrating its 24th anniversary this year. There is no cost for admission to the events and the public is invited.
The Power of Sport series will include eight speakers and artists throughout the 2016-17 academic year. Joining Chastain in the lineup will be Sports Illustrated photographer Damian Strohmeyer, author Mary Willingham, U of O Hall of Fame basketball player Sylvester Benson, professional surfer and scientist Dr. Easkey Britton, filmmakers Larry Foley and Matt Skinner, and former FIFA executive and U.S. Soccer gold medalist Mary Harvey.
The series will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, with a visit from Chastain, who gained world-wide fame in 1999 with her bra-baring celebration after scoring the game-winning penalty kick against China in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. A collegiate standout at Santa Clara University who was named national player of the year in 1990, Chastain helped lead the U.S. National team to two World Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal. Following her professional career, she has served as a broadcaster with the ABC/ESPN coverage of Major League Soccer, and as analyst for NBC Sports. In 2004, she authored the book, “It’s Not About the Bra,” which advocates kids having fun with sports.
On Sept. 22, Skinner will provide a showing and discussion of his 2015 documentary, “Outlaw: Life, Death and Texas Football,” about Texas and Arkansas high school football coaching legend John Outlaw, who died in 2011. From humble beginnings, Outlaw rose to become synonymous with high school football in America. Skinner’s company, Skinner Digital, is an award-winning production company that directs and produces film and video projects all across the U.S. Clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as the largest privately held organizations in the world. He is a graduate of the radio television and film program at the University of Texas in Austin.
The series continues on Oct. 13 with a talk by Willingham, the co-author of “The UNC Scandal, The Education of Athletes and the Future of Big-Time College Sport.” The 2015 book unveiled a corrupt academic system for student-athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, home of the legendary Tar Heels. Her research includes studies on the NCAA and university admission procedures with regards to profiting athletes, and their specific gaps in basic skill deficits
On Nov. 17, Benson will be joined by several members of the 1963-64 Ozarks men’s basketball team to talk about the integration of athletics in Arkansas. Benson, who was inducted into the U of O Hall of Fame in 2004, was the first black player to play on a team at a predominately white college in Arkansas. A retired educator, Benson has been a member of the University Board of Trustees for many years
Strohmeyer will visit Ozarks on Feb. 7, to present his sports photography, which includes more than 70 cover shots for Sports Illustrated. He has been a working professional photographer for more than 30 years. After spending time at newspapers in Topeka, Kansas and Denver, he embarked on a long association with Sports Illustrated magazine where he has covered more than 2,000 assignments.
On March 1, Britton will present a talk titled, “Be Like Water: Reflections on Developing a Cross-Cultural Program for Women, Surfing and Social Good.” Britton is an internationally renowned professional surfer, artist, scientist and explorer from Ireland, with a Ph.D. in marine environment and society. A research fellow at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Britton has channeled her passion for surfing into social change. She is co-founder of the non-profit Waves of Freedom, which uses the power of surfing as a creative medium for social change.
Foley, a long-time Arkansas journalist, educator and documentary filmmaker, will present a showing of his 2015 baseball documentary, “The First Boys of Spring,” on April 5. The film tells the story of major league spring training in the Arkansas resort town of Hot Springs, starting in the late 1880s. For parts of eight decades, many of the best who ever played the game came to Hot Springs to shake off the rust from winters of sedentary indulgence to prepare for long seasons ahead. The film was featured on the MLB network and won Best of Competition Award at the Festival of Media Arts at the 2016 Broadcast Education Association. A professor and chair of the Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas, Foley’s productions have earned five Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and 14 Emmy nominations in writing, journalistic enterprise, history, cultural history, special program and community service.
The series concludes on April 19 with a talk from Harvey, a former U.S. women’s soccer standout who has become one of the country’s leading sports development and governance executives. Harvey has been leading initiatives to achieve societal change through sports for almost two decades. She is the former FIFA director of development, the first woman and first American hired by the international governing body to run a division. In her playing days, Harvey was the starting goalkeeper for the 1991 U.S. Women’s National Team which won the inaugural 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup and was also a member of the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal team. She is the vice chair on the board for Green Sports Alliance, a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit devoted to helping sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance.
For more information on the 2016-17 Walton Arts & Ideas Series, please contact the Office of Public Relations at 479-979-1433.