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A Coach Connection

One volunteer program enables college athletes to help Vietnamese youth stay in school

University of Miami (Florida) swimmer Alicia Casillas teaches Vietnamese children the basics of tennis in the Mekong Delta. COACH FOR COLLEGE PHOTO

Even though her college tennis days are over, Duke University graduate Parker Goyer is still scoring aces with her international service. Goyer is the founder and director of Coach for College, an educational program that connects student-athletes from the United States with students in Vietnam.

Between 64 and 70 college athletes take part in the Coach for College program each year. Volunteers serve as tutors and coaches to help reduce the dropout rate of middle school students in Vietnam. Each Coach for College volunteer is assigned one sport and one academic subject to teach during his or her three-week trip.

Since Goyer formed the organization in 2008, 31 universities have sent a total of 293 student-athletes to volunteer in Vietnam. This summer’s group of 64 volunteers will bring the grand total to 357.

Derrick Morgan, a 2015 graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, and former sprinter on the indoor and outdoor track and field teams there, said he can relate to the trials and tribulations many Vietnamese children face. He has a message for the young people in Vietnam: “Those who start with you may not finish with you. If you stay focused, through education or sports, you can do whatever you put your mind to.”

Goyer has zeroed in on Coach for College since her time as a Blue Devil. She hasn’t stopped serving and certainly hasn’t stopped learning. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Duke in psychology and neuroscience, she earned a master’s in international and comparative education and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Oxford. She then completed her doctorate in human development and education at Harvard University. Goyer is now a visiting scholar at Stanford University.

She is diligent about program evaluation, constantly conducting surveys and improving the overall experience for the student-athletes and Vietnamese children.

In the future, Goyer aims to expand the number of universities involved, the number of sites within a country and the number of countries the program touches. The majority of Coach for College participants now come from Division I schools, but she hopes to expand to Divisions II and III.


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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.