Trinity faculty and alumni pose for a photo with the members of the Zambian delegation
Trinity Hosts Zambian Sports Diplomacy Delegation
Faculty, students, and alumni discussed purpose-driven leadership with Zambian basketball coaches and players

On Saturday, March 16, and Thursday, March 21, Trinity University hosted a delegation of 10 basketball players and coaches from Zambia. Trinity business professors Jacob Tingle ’95, Ed.D., and Brandon Crooms, Ph.D.; education professor Angela Breidenstein ’91, M’92, Ed.D.; alumna Emily Ellis ’22; and graduate students Yvette Peña ’18, M’19, M’24;  Haley Thames ’22, M’24; and Maeve Armand ’23, M’24 discussed leadership and backward program design with their Zambian guests. 

“It was incredible to both teach and learn from this group of educators and coaches,” Peña says. “It was an example of how great ideas can come about when you work collaboratively across contexts. It was an incredible opportunity to see how education and educational tools can influence leadership and growth across all aspects of life.”

This session was part of the larger Leadership Development through Sports: Program for Zambia, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges through the Sports Diplomacy division. With the help of The Basketball Embassy, the Zambian players and coaches journeyed to San Antonio for a 10-day program centered on developing leadership through sports and the importance of prioritizing mental health for players and coaches.

During Saturday’s session, Crooms delved into the essence of purpose-driven leadership in sports, emphasizing the transformative power of personal stories.

“I was truly inspired by hearing the personal narratives and stories of each coach and how certain pivotal moments in their life influenced them to be multifaceted individuals that use sport to impact their community,” Crooms says.

Visiting assistant professor of business administration Brandon Croom, Ph.D., shared his journey and the impact of mentorship through his student-athlete development program with the Zambian delegation.

During Thursday’s session, the Trinity professors and students tackled challenging but rewarding questions about how sports impact young athletes. “It was a privilege to hear the basketball coaches talk about and wrestle with questions like: How can sports be used to encourage and empower youth? What methods can be used to teach youth participating in sports programs life skills beyond simply playing sports? And how can engaging with sport develop leadership skills in youth that can be used beyond the courts?” Tingle says.

Education professor Angela Breidenstein ’91, M’92 spoke to the Zambian delegation about backward program design.

While the delegation engaged in meaningful discussions, they also learned about a new approach to teaching. “The ‘backward design’ model we shared with them encourages the development of essential questions and understandings and helps them to plan their projects with the end goal in mind,” Breidenstein says.

This Zambian delegation directly follows Tingle and Breidenstein’s Spring Break trip with Trinity volleyball players to North Macedonia and the exchange of Macedonian volleyball coaches to Trinity in Summer 2023 through the Leadership through Sport Program. Additionally, in Spring 2023, Tingle, Breidenstein, and Trinity student-athletes traveled to Uzbekistan for a basketball sports diplomacy trip through the Youth Leadership through Sports Program. In November 2022, the pair of professors and Master of Arts in Teaching and sport management students led sessions for a delegation of high school girls from Serbia and Croatia. In October 2022, they hosted an exchange of Uzbek high school basketball players at Trinity.

“This is the power of sports diplomacy on full display,” Tingle says. “Living in San Antonio and working at Trinity University means there are so many opportunities to participate in cultural exchanges and international learning sessions.”

In mid-April, an American delegation, including Crooms and Trinity students, will travel to Zambia to continue to assess and design action plans for their initiatives and build meaningful intercultural connections.

Kennice Leisk '22 is the content coordinator for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing. She majored in English and Latin and minored in creative writing and comparative literature at Trinity.

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