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Caitie Goddard: Around the ball and around the world

From Detroit to New Zealand, college basketball inspired one former student-athlete to take on the world

By: Simone Egwu

Photo: IC3 Academy, Colin Salinsbury

When Caitie Goddard arrived at the University of Detroit Mercy, she planned to compete in women's basketball, earn a degree and then launch her career in the business world.  Little did she know her career would end up sending her around the globe in a direction she never expected.

After graduating from Detroit in 2006, Goddard worked in Uganda, Spain, India and New Zealand and earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan before cofounding IC3 Academy.

IC3 stands for I Can Create Change. It’s an intensive one-week academy for individuals who dream of creating social change but lack the resources or the network to bring their ideas to fruition.  As a result, Goddard now spends her days mentoring and empowering others to pursue their dreams of creating social change around the world.

As Horizon League Freshman of the Year for women’s basketball, it became evident early that Goddard had the work ethic to make her dreams become a reality. During her four- year career, she had 57 starts and shot 36.7 percent (112 of 305) from behind the arc. Eight years post-graduation, she still ranks ninth in school history in successful 3-pointers.

A dedicated Division I basketball player, Goddard still found time to be an active member in the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and stay on top of her schoolwork.

“Caitie was always going to be successful,” said teammate Joanna Cooper, who graduated alongside Goddard in 2006. “She brought a lot of passion and hard work, both on the court, and off the court in the classroom.”

By her senior year, Goddard was vice president of the Horizon League SAAC. As a leader in her school and conference SAAC organizations, she joined her fellow student-athletes on numerous community service endeavors in the Detroit metropolitan area. It was while serving as a counselor at an overnight camp for high school students that Goddard realized “as a young adult who had no qualifications, I could still be a part of something pretty cool and make a difference.”

Then, during her senior year at Detroit, Goddard’s older brother passed away. Reeling from her loss, she joined her extended family on a trip overseas to their home country of Lebanon. The community they visited had recently lost an 18 year-old serviceman in a military helicopter crash. The parallels between her heartache and that of the families in Lebanon left a lasting imprint.

Family after family opened homes to Goddard and her relatives, hosting feasts and celebrations in a town that was simultaneously mourning a loss and celebrating the return of old friends.

“I had never seen anything like that, and I felt a responsibility to give back to others the way they had given to me,” she recalls.

It was then that her gaze turned abroad.

A year later, she stepped out of a competitive career position at Chrysler Motor Corp. to teach English in Madrid, Spain.  And true to her basketball roots, she coached youth basketball in a league sponsored by the Chelsea Football Club, a professional football club based in London, England that competes in the Premier League - the highest level of English football.  A few months later, Goddard attended the “Be the Change” conference, a one-week experience that focused on opportunities in international development.  There she met Colin Salinsbury, who four years later would join her as cofounder of the IC3 Academy.

Academy participants earn a diploma in social innovation from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace and are paired with mentors for up to a year after graduating to refine their plans for social change and bring them to life.

IC3 alumni have designed and manifested initiatives that range from raising diversity awareness through leadership camps to providing a safe space for mental health issues through an organic farming program. The academy has hosted conferences on four continents, and its graduates hail from more than 20 countries.

For Goddard, IC3 teaches how to better understand cultural sensitivities, especially the fine line between helping communities thrive and patronizing an already capable group of people.

“IC3 is about the person who attends and empowering them and whatever community they are from to recognize they can be change agents,” she says.  “You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes the resources and knowledge are already in these communities. They just need to be discovered and mobilized.” 

As IC3 enters its seventh year, Goddard has not forgotten her Michigan roots. The IC3 leadership team is working to establish an Emerging Leaders Scholarship for individuals who can’t afford the tuition for the academy. It’s not only for those in low-income countries, but in places such as Goddard’s hometown of Detroit, where she has met hundreds of brilliants leaders who don’t know where or how to start. 

Asked how sports have led her to where she is today, Goddard credits her community service hours with SAAC.

“Surrounded by kids who are heavily influenced by athletes, I realized it is a huge privilege to be an athlete,” she said. “I may not deserve it, but I can be a mouthpiece for others and for their communities.” 

Biography

Caitie Goddard
Co-founder and director, IC3 Academy

Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan

Current City: Chicago, Illinois

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, University of Detroit Mercy, 2006; master’s degree in public policy analysis, University of Michigan, 2014

Sport: women’s basketball

Fun fact: Caitie speaks Spanish and Luganda, the major language in the central African country of Uganda.