After earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just four years at Stanford, Sam Beskind ’21 M.S. ’22 has started class and training at Colorado School of Mines, where the 2022 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year announced he was transferring to back in April. But even with the challenge of adjusting to a new school and basketball program, Beskind has been busy with something much grander.
The former Stanford basketball guard is the student-lead for All Vote No Play, a movement that seeks to grow citizens through the power of athletics and shape the future. Beskind’s work is all coming to fruition this month. On Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. PT, AVNP will be hosting the Engaged Athlete All-Star Meeting, a virtual event aimed at inspiring student-athletes to rethink their civic engagement through the lens of leadership.
“This effort, in many ways, is more of an experiment of applied thought leadership around how ideas can change systems and shape our future, then it is about specifically targeting student athletes to vote in the upcoming midterms,” Beskind told The Daily. “Don’t get me wrong, voting is a critical element to being an engaged citizen. However, we are trying to inspire much more than that.”
The event will feature speakers who not only excel in their respective sports careers, but have also demonstrated leadership in the community with large-scale impact. Former Secretary of State and Director of Stanford’s Hoover Institution Condoleezza Rice, NBA superstar Stephen Curry and Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer headline the list of speakers who will be interviewed by student-athletes like Beskind, as well as Stanford’s own Cameron Brink and Isa Silva.
“The willingness of the individuals at Stanford to help build something special has been the most amazing part,” Beskind said of putting the event together. “This opportunity would not be possible without faculty, like Secretary Rice and Coach Tara VanDerveer, volunteering their time to share their experiences in public service and leadership. Other Stanford leaders have been especially supportive of this effort, namely Coach Jesse Pruitt. Lastly, the student-athletes willingness to embrace the effort is what makes me personally hopeful.”
“Whether it is Cameron Brink who will be leading a conversation with Coach Vanderveer, or Isa Silva interviewing Steph Curry, the desire to be an engaged athlete is very real,” he added. “I couldn’t think of a better way for Stanford and President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s core pillars of leadership and service to come to life.”
The idea behind the Engaged Athlete All-Star Meeting has long been in the works. Being a student-athlete himself, Beskind came to realize just how influential collegiate athletes can be with their platform. Something in particular that helped lead to the event was “Inventing the Future,” a class in Stanford’s d.School that Beskind took during his time at Stanford. The course sought to help students imagine better futures and prototype how to work towards that future, something the Stanford-grad feels “is exactly what this event is all about.”
The All Vote No Play event is by no means Beskind’s first time putting something together like this. “Inventing the Future” professor and AVNP’s co-founder, Lisa Kay Solomon, has been a figure especially inspiring for Beskind throughout this process. Together, the pair also put together an event during last year’s Civic Engagement Day in November, a day in which all student-athletes were off from athletic activities after the NCAA unanimously approved legislation in September 2020 that athletic departments give student-athletes the day off on Election Day — a decision that passed largely in part to the efforts of Eric Reveno ’89, AVNP’s other co-founder who is also a former Stanford basketball player and assistant coach . Last year’s event was successful, as it brought 200 Stanford athletes together to build community and talk about engaged citizenship. The Engaged Athlete All-Star Meeting hopes to build off of that.
Backed by the support of Vote.org, Pac12 Votes, Athletes Unlimited, Students Learn Students Vote, Motivote, MyVote Project and ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, the event can be accessed after registering online. Hoping to inspire a sense of community responsibility into college athletes across the country, Beskind has plans to continue such efforts with the ultimate goal of institutionalizing their ambitions. In the meantime, however, he still has the September event to look forward to. Registration is available online.
“Being an ‘Engaged Athlete’ does not mean you have to single-handedly save the world; in fact, it is quite the opposite,” Beskind said. “We want to show that anyone, regardless of their sport, gender, seniority, political ideology, or any other label, can make a difference in their corner of the world.”