Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 22, 2011


Using sports as a means to empower young people worldwide, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced today that WNBA legends Olympia Scott and Sue Wicks will travel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as sports envoys.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of “smart power” diplomacy. It embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, including sports, to bring people together for greater understanding.

From September 26- October 1, Scott and Wicks will lead basketball clinics and teambuilding exercises for young women ages 12-17 from underserved communities. This trip builds on the Department’s continued efforts to empower women and girls through sports. It follows the Women’s World Cup Initiative that brought 16 young women to the United States for an international sports exchange. Click here to learn more.

In addition, the sports diplomats will visit the Binational Center in Santo Domingo to meet with parents and teachers. The Binational Center provides educational programs, such as the teaching of English, to promote knowledge and mutual understanding between the people of the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Sports envoys are current and retired professional athletes and coaches that travel overseas to conduct drills and team building activities, as well as engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices and respect for diversity. Previous sports envoys include: Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra; former NBA player and Olympic gold medalist Sam Perkins; NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin, and WNBA basketball great Cynthia Cooper. In partnership with SportsUnited, 48 NBA and WNBA players and coaches have visited 22 different countries since 2004, where they have conducted basketball clinics for thousands of young boys, girls and coaches.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ leading sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of an education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 600 athletes from 44 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent more than 100 U.S. athletes to 40 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs.

For more information on sports diplomacy, contact Talley Sergent, U.S. Department of State, at SergentRT@state.gov, or Sharon DeLima, National Basketball Association, at slima@nba.com or +1 (212) 407.8170. Media interested in covering the sports envoys in the Dominican Republic should contact Nani Martinez, U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo, MartinezAE@state.gov or +(809) 566-3131, ext. 235.