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Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging

To cultivate a home-court advantage that ensures every student-athlete, coach and staff member feels a sense of belonging at BYU. We align with the university's charge that, "all relationships within the BYU community should reflect devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of our neighbor" and the need to "root out racism." As we continually strive to obey God’s commandment to love one another, we commit to building an intentional and inclusive environment that welcomes varying perspectives, backgrounds, cultures and life experiences.

Growth

Propelling leaders (student-athletes, coaches and staff) to honor and respect others – who a person is, how they present themselves, and what they contribute – and to appropriately perceive, understand and value the diversity around us.

Identity

Accepting, loving and finding peace within ourselves, and our eternal destiny and potential, as children of God.

Charity

Practicing the pure love of Christ in our daily lives by showing compassion, love and kindness towards others.

Unity

Acknowledging and celebrating our differences and seeing the strength that comes in diversity as we strive toward the goal of becoming one team.

 

In February 2021, the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion department within BYU Athletics was created when Tom Holmoe hired Whitney Johnson as the Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion. This was a brand new position created in order to help BYU Athletics in its continuing efforts to best support all of its student-athletes, including in relation to issues of diversity and inclusion. Johnson reports directly to Holmoe and is a member of BYU Athletics’ senior leadership team. Her position oversees the strategic vision and program implementation for diversity and inclusion within BYU Athletics, including for minority student-athletes in the core areas of race/ethnicity, international, LGBTQ & SSA, and student-athletes of other faiths.

Johnson hired her first employee in May 2021, BYU women's volleyball setter Tayler Tausinga Hifo. Hifo specialized in programming, event planning and execution, executing social media initiatives, thorough documentation of all DEI efforts and survey compilation. She worked from May 2021-December 2021. Johnson then hired BYU women’s tennis player Avery Pope, daughter of BYU men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope. Avery Pope assisted Johnson with event execution, social media advertising, event documentation and programming and worked from December 2021-June 2022.

In March 2022, a BYU Athletics Diversity & Inclusion Council was established in order to strategize the department's goals of belonging, with the plan to include at least one member from each department in BYU Athletics. The council meets monthly with Johnson to participate in trainings, brainstorming sessions and educational moments that assist in improving belonging. Each member acts as a representative by communicating updates and best practices to their prospective units in the athletic department. The committee is also broken into four subcommittees: Community, Data Collection, Education and Onboarding.

In addition to the council, Johnson added four new members to her staff in the 2022-23 calendar year: Elisa Huhem, Hailey Smedley, Cassandra Smalley and Lauren Bosco. Huhem recently graduated from the BYU MPA Program and is from Cedar Hills, Utah. Smedley is from Lincoln, California and is studying Experience Design and Management at BYU. Smalley is from Carrollton, Georgia and is currently studying Psychology. Bosco has worked for BYU Athletics since 2017 and is from Boise, Idaho.

The 2023 Belonging Council

Nycole Larsen (Academics), Donovan Marshall (Strength & Conditioning), Kurt Hunsaker (Compliance), Joel Marion (Marketing/Fan Experience), Lee Johnson (Cougar Club), Rachel Friel (Swim & Dive), Jacob Gibb (Graphic Design), TJ Bass (Sports Medicine), Jocelyn Allan (Cheer), Jasen Ah You (Football), Corallee Alexander (Built4Life), Jessica Mullen (Academics), Nick Robinson (Men's Basketball), Geni Tausinga (Gymnastics/Soccer/Tennis), Halee Rogers (Women's Volleyball), Ofa Kanuch (Psychology), Will Tenney (Academics), Lea Garner (Women's Golf), Tuckett Slade (Baseball), Gabby Curtis (Women's Tennis), Steve Clark (Football), Morgan Bailey (Women's Basketball), Phillip Hartog (Sports Medicine), Brenna Seeman (Women's Soccer/Gymnastics), Tiffany Bowcut (HR), Rong Ma (Men's Tennis), Kiana Schlenker (CST), Kade Carroll (Social Media), Ambrie Kirkham (Cougarettes), Lauren Bosco (Communications), Chris Anderson (Equipment), Braden Brown (Mental Health/Performance), Bruce Brockbank (Men's Golf), Camden Roe, Kyle Lords (Finance)

The 2023 Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Staff

Whitney Johnson: Associate AD for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion (February 2021-present)

Elisa Huhem: Belonging Specialist (August 2022-November 2023)

Lauren Bosco: Communications and Social Media Specialist (August 2022-present)

Hailey Smedley: Student Assistant for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion (January 2023-present)

Cassandra Smalley: Student Assistant for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion (January 2023-present)

Marcos Orfila: Student Assistant for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion (August 2023-present)

2023-24 Events

Celebratory Months, Days and Campaigns

  • Belonging Begins with Me (September)
  • Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
  • NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Social Media Campaign (Oct. 17-19)
  • Sports Hero Day (October 21)
  • Native American Heritage Month (November)
  • International Education Week (November 13-17)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday of January)
  • BYU Honor Week (Jan. 29-Feb. 3)

 

  • National Girls & Women in Sports Day (February)
  • Black History Month (February)
  • National Athletic Training Month (March)
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May)
  • Pride Month (June)
  • Juneteenth (June 19)
  • 50th Anniversary of Title IX Kick-Off (June)