When Michael Hill was called on to head UTA Athletics’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee, his first plan of action was to get student-athletes, coaches and staff registered to vote in the 2020 general election.
Hill, assistant athletic director for communications, launched the Mav Up and Vote campaign with the intention of educating people within the department about where each candidate stands on certain issues.
Earlier this month, the department’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee announced that all players from the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s cross-country teams, men’s and women’s golf teams and volleyball team were registered to vote.
Hill said the Student Athlete Advisory Committee played an important part in securing the department’s high voter registration numbers because the student-athletes are the only ones who could physically be in front of their teammates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without them, I don’t know if we would have made it,” Hill said.
Senior forward Bre Wickware said she has been registered to vote since 2016, so she helped some of her younger teammates on the women’s basketball team with their own registration process. Wickware, women’s basketball team president for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, helped her out-of-state teammates by printing off the documents they needed to register and vote by mail.
Seven of the team’s members are juniors and registering to vote for the first time, according to Wickware. She said she doesn’t know if the team’s younger members understand the magnitude of their decision to vote yet.
“That’s our civic duty,” Wickware said. “It’s fun to see them kind of do grown-up things.”
Hill worked with everyone throughout the athletic department to get the Mav Up and Vote campaign’s message across. Coaches knew about Hill’s plan about a month before he made it public to the rest of the department.
Virtual staff meetings were important for Hill to remind everyone in the department to get out and register.
Junior setter Kylee Kapp said the Student Athlete Advisory Committee helped spread Hill’s message to student-athletes by assigning one or two committee members to every team in the athletic department. Those members were told to direct other student-athletes to the Mav Up and Vote campaign’s website for registration information.
Kapp, volleyball social justice team captain for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, said the younger members of the volleyball team were some of the first to say they had already registered. Kapp is one of the team’s most tenured members.
“It’s cool to see that as time goes on, everyone is getting into that routine of getting registered to vote at a young age,” she said.
Wickware said some members of the women’s basketball team have already sent their mail-in ballots, while other local team members are planning on voting at their own convenience. The athletic department has given every team an off day Nov. 3, so all local members of the women’s basketball and volleyball teams plan on casting their votes before or on that day.
Hill said it felt good to see teams in the athletic department reach 100% voter registration because he believes people want to have their voices heard on Election Day.
“You can’t force anybody to vote,” Hill said. “With the times that we live in right now, it’s more imperative for people to have their voices heard.”
Sports reporter Adrian Rodriguez contributed to this article.