In January the Department of Exercise and Sport Science hosted the 2nd Annual EXSS Reads Program, which was developed and coordinated by Dr. Sherry Salyer. EXSS Reads is modeled after the UNC Summer Reading Program and focuses on topics that are directly related to our majors. This year’s reading was William Rhoden’s “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete.” We had roughly 40 students participate in small groups that were led by different 9 separate EXSS faculty members. This is a unique and impactful program that allows our large and growing department to interact with our students in small groups to have in depth discussions.
When asked about what they gained from participating in EXSS Reads, we received the following feedback:
- I am a very shy person who enjoys reading. I was hesitant about signing up because I was worried I would struggle with the discussion, but it was in fact the opposite. It boosted my confidence being able to discuss my thoughts and opinions in a small group conversational setting. I also got to read a book that I enjoyed and might not have read/heard about if not for this EXSS reads.
- I had taken a history class last fall where we discussed some of the topics that were included in the book, so it was interesting to see it from another angle and continue the learning process. I also enjoyed speaking with fellow EXSS-ers and faculty, some people I never would have met or gotten to talk about some of these things with.
- As a relatively new student in the major I feel I gained a chance to meet other students in the department with similar interests and intrigue with EXSS related topics. I always enjoy analyzing books, and I thoroughly enjoyed dissecting the themes and learning a lot of historical background.
- Through EXSS Reads, I had the opportunity to meet faculty members outside of my EXSS track, as well as confer and discuss an interesting book with other EXSS students. I am a senior, so it is nice to meet people within the EXSS department outside of my track and see their perspective on subject matter relevant to our studies. The EXSS department is huge, so it’s really awesome to take the time to get to know one another in a smaller and less intimidating environment than a lecture hall. I especially liked having the opportunity to read an insightful book like Forty Million Dollar Slaves and participate in an academic discussion without having the pressure of being graded on my thoughts and ideas.
- It was such a fun and valuable experience. I loved being able to talk with my fellow students and professors on what can often be hard or difficult topics and I would absolutely recommend this to anyone! It helped me sit down and read, which can often be something I struggle with and it was worth every second of time I spent!
- I believe that I have gained insight into a school of thought, an opportunity to engage in discussion with my peers and instructors with low stakes, a topic provided, and an opportunity to–with these peers–both learn about and sort out ideas and thoughts about a complicated but important subject.
- I think that the EXSS Reads allowed me to read a book I would not have necessarily picked on my own. I think the discussion allowed for many ideas and topics to be discussed and considered from many different viewpoints.
- Participating in EXSS Reads gave me something related to my major to do over winter break, stopping me from ignoring all academia for a month. I read $40 Million Slaves during my car rides to and from my grandparents’ house for Christmas and on my flight back to UNC in January (as easy read) . The event itself gave me the opportunity to sit and talk about the book with 5 other EXSS majors and a professor, whom I’m pretty sure I otherwise wouldn’t have met this year. Dr. Ondrak gave me advice about the physical therapy pre-requisites I need to take and about volunteering for a PT. At the pizza party following the book discussion, I got to know other EXSS majors (one of which I realized sits next to me in my physiology class!) as well as other professors and faculty in the EXSS department.
- I felt like I learned a lot about the hardships that African Americans faced when trying to play sports. I thought many aspects were interesting especially how the state of North Carolina was mentioned several times throughout the book. I really enjoyed being involved with other students and especially Dr. Malekoff. His insight was interesting because he mentioned he had taught a class here about sport history which included many topics that we discussed during the session.
- I gained an exposure to a viewpoint that I never would have heard without addressing this topic or discussion.
- Different perspectives on race relations of African American athletes. Others thoughts on what the continuing chapters would be if the book were written now.
Many thanks to all those students and faculty who participated in EXSS Reads. A very special thanks to Dr. Sherry Salyer for always working to find new ways to connect students and faculty.