This week, Isaiah J. Jacobs, also known as Zay, sat down with us to discuss Husky Sport. Isaiah, a Hartford native and Graduate Assistant working towards a master’s degree in the Sport Management program, has been connected to Husky Sport for more than 10 years. With his wealth of perspective, Isaiah filled us in on the potential impact of Husky Sport, the importance of representation in schools, and why mentorship can be so powerful.
“In 8th grade I started going to the Hartford Catholic Worker, the Green House, where Husky Sport was volunteering. That is where I met people like Dr. McGarry, Justin, and other students with the program. I think often times people feel like the work Husky Sport is doing doesn't have a huge impact on anyone, but I am an example of that impact. The connections I made through Husky Sport have helped me transition from high school to college, then from college to AmeriCorps, and again from AmeriCorps back to grad school. I’m not saying that without them I wouldn't have made it this far, but they were definitely a helping factor to get where I am at. Beyond the support through those transitions, my involvement with Husky Sport allowed me to come back to my community. Having a platform to come home and give back to the community is what i am most proud of. I don't necessarily see myself doing the work that Husky Sport does, career wise, but the space and encouragement to be engaged civically will stick with me."
"Anytime I speak to someone working in the schools, they always say, ‘The boys need the most help. We can handle the girls, they are typically fine, but our boys are really struggling, especially at the middle school age.’ It’s important to provide guidance and be the mentor that I had when I was younger. I have the potential to have a real impact on these young men and their trajectory. That was primarily the reason why I wanted to work with Husky Strength. I am uniquely positioned to have an impact on this specific group of boys. There aren't many Black people working in the school, for one, having people that look like them working in the school is important. I grew up in the same community they are growing up in so I automatically have that connection. Having these things in common creates a foundation where building trust can become more easy. They can open up and talk to me and whether they want to talk about their personal life or just general conversations, we already have that building block to work from. This foundation is most important when they ask questions. Being able to say that I went to college and that I'm not a collegiate athlete, it shows them that throwing a ball isn’t the the only way to make it out. We are able to show them that you can accomplish a lot without ever touching a basketball. They can see someone who looks like them doing something different than what they know, different than what society tells them is possible.”