Parker Goyer, Rhodes Scholar, Expands Overseas Teaching Program for College Athletes

Brad Wolverton
The Chronicle of Higher Education

More than 260,000 U.S. college students studied abroad in 2009, according to the Institute of International Education, with scores more taking short-term trips to experience life in other countries. You won’t count many college athletes among them.

Parker Goyer, a former Duke University tennis player, hopes to change that. Three years ago, she started a program called Coach for College, which places college athletes in Vietnamese villages every summer to work with local children. Sixty-seven athletes are scheduled to take part this summer, with the first camp starting next week. The athletes will work with up to 960 Vietnamese middle-school students, teaching them how to play basketball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball, and giving lessons in biology, physics, and English.

Now a Rhodes Scholar studying at the University of Oxford’s Said School of Business, Ms. Goyer started the program after observing that few college athletes had the time or ability to spend a semester abroad, and that many also lacked opportunities to do meaningful community-service work.

“Sports in the U.S. have gotten so competitive, you start playing at 5, 6, 7, and specialize really early. If you go on to play at a high level in college, it’s almost like your main focus–playing four hours a day and trying to get by academically,” she said in an interview. “Coach for College helps students become less one-dimensional–to become good citizens that contribute to society.”

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