Oh, how the Cecil house loves Halloween! From Frankenstein’s gashes, witches on broomsticks and vampire kisses, to binge-watching the spooky classics “Sleepy Hallow” and the dreaded “Psycho,” we’ve been rocking out to the “Monster Mash” since before Charli was a baby. Halloween to me is the kickoff of the holiday season — and while I deeply miss the explosion of burnt orange, robust reds and fields of gold fall foliage in Nashville, autumn in Arizona is officially the cooling-off season.

One of the things I adore about my husband Chuck is his ability to support me in my over-the-top enthusiasm for gore galore, treat-filled bags and any drink with pumpkin spice. He takes out the garbage without blinking an eye, stepping over hay bales covered in severed bloody parts and ducking under the ghouls hanging from the rain gutters. This is true love.

My advice to our trick-or-treaters: Beware if you knock, and don’t come near here if in Sun Devils gear.

From left, Sandy Barbour, Carrie Cecil and Dr. Karen North share the stage at a convention.

In the biz

College athletics boasts a diverse body of athletes, coaches and athletic department staff members. Within Power 5 conference schools, there are five female athletic directors leading the charge for women in the NCAA. The group is Penn State’s Sandy Barbour, Washington’s Jen Cohen, Pitt’s Heather Lyke, North Carolina State’s Debbie Yow and Virginia’s Carla Williams. Williams is also the first African-American woman to be named an athletic director at a Power 5 conference school.

Barbour talked about her Nittany Lions facing off with Cohen’s Huskies last year in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I am thrilled for Washington’s success, and I’m even more thrilled for Jen’s success,” she said. “We have to pull for each other, we have to back each other, and we have to hold each other up.”

Higher-education attorney Janet Judge eloquently summed up the need for diversity to me.

“Recent events remind us that finding opportunities to work and play side-by-side within a diverse population leads to a greater appreciation for difference and a fundamental understanding of those qualities that bind us to one another,” she said. “Intercollegiate athletics provide unique opportunities to build an inclusive culture among campus leaders, but retention is challenging unless there are mentors, support, and cultural sensitivity for the diverse populations sport draws.”

I love to see so many women within the NCAA rooting for each other and mentoring-up tomorrow’s leadership!

Tech talk

Social media activism is one of the most powerful catalysts for change.

Athletic stakeholders walk a fine line between supporting their constituents and how activism may negatively impact their image and bottom line. From #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #TimesUp, #WeStrike to #MAGA and #NeverAgain, social activists are utilizing the power of the internet to disrupt business as usual. It is urgently important for athletic departments to train their social networking users on how to properly engage online.

Activists need to comprehend both the positive and negative impacts of online activism and how their digital footprint can create backlash for them in the future for things such as college applications or new careers. While social media gives us all the power to correct inaccuracies and call out injustices, we must grasp how to advocate with empathy and have an understanding of different cultures and viewpoints. As we all rise up for our causes, let’s ensure that we are promoting our issues online in an impactful way without causing unintentional harm.

Here are four points to help guide the civic leaders on your team;

  • Limit emotion. Understand the underlying cause of your issue and share information with facts instead of emotion.
  • Know the benefits. Share what we have learned historically from an issue and how we can benefit from change.
  • Realize risks. Understand the risks and consequences of sharing information and how it may impact you both today and tomorrow.
  • Teach tolerance: It is never OK to provoke hate or violence online, and online hate speech can be against the law. Negative activism is counter to both the mission and its credibility.
  • Need help training your people on social media activism? Contact me at info@teamsm2.com.



Feeling good

If you need to lift your spirit, join us at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort on Friday, Nov. 9. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour followed by dinner and a presentation by Dick Hoyt. Dick is one-half of the inspiring “Team Hoyt”, a father-son duo who have advocated for people living with disabilities and encouraged the belief that “yes, you can” through their participation in numerous athletic events around the world.

Dick and his son Rick’s athletic endeavors have earned them inductions into the Ford Ironman World Championship Hall of Fame and the Marine Corps Marathon Hall of Fame. In 2013, they received the ESPY Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Need information on the event? Contact steve@teamhoytarizona.com