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More Than Basketball: Lady Lions Embrace Social Justice Initiatives

Following a lengthy offseason, Penn State women’s basketball is finally gearing up for its second year under head coach Carolyn Kieger. And while the team has its sights set on winning in the middle of a rebuilding year, basketball is far from the only thing on its mind.

During her season-opening press conference Thursday, Kieger addressed her team’s involvement in social justice causes and highlighted the importance of players using their voices to spark change.

“Our number one goal is to help our women become the best version of themselves and live a lifetime of impact,” Kieger said. “As long as we’re creating a platform for them to…make their team, their community, and eventually those around them and the younger generations better, that’s what it’s all about.”

According to Kieger, on the fifth day of every month, the Lady Lions dedicate time to create “action items and purposeful steps toward change,” in honor of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police whose death sparked nationwide protests. Floyd wore No. 5 for his college basketball team at South Florida State.

“Obviously, the work is not done, and we’re just beginning,” Kieger said. “But the conversations that our team has had have been so special and so powerful.”

Standout sophomore Anna Camden appears to be paving the way for the Lady Lions. On Thursday, she joined Penn State football’s PJ Mustipher in a presentation to the university’s Board of Trustees on student-athlete activism and social justice efforts.

Camden spoke about her team’s Ignite the Change” initiative, which involved promoting voter registration, ordering “Black Lives Matter” bracelets, and encouraging others to watch the documentary “13th” on Netflix.

“Being one of the most diverse teams on campus, social justice is a topic that is obviously very, very close to our hearts,” Camden said. “We feel very called to strive for positive change in whatever way we can. I feel very blessed to play for a school that values opinions and voices. It’s so important for us to use our platform as Penn State athletes to strive for a more equal and just society, which is what we’ve been doing.”

Moving forward, Camden, her teammates, and her entire coaching staff hope to continue the conversation and work together to fight for a better country.

“We have such a diverse group in our program and this is so amazing to go through a situation and times as a group where you pull together and lean on each other,” Kieger said. “It’s why we do what we do, especially during these challenging times that are happening in our country right now. The fights not done, and we’ll continue to do it every day.”

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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