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About SASO

The Student Athletes Speak Out (SASO) project was created by Dr. Carolyn Atkins, over two decades ago in the 1990's. Student athletes enrolled at West Virginia University, in Atkins' Effective Public Speaking class, develop personal stories of motivation and inspiration to share with WV middle school students and the Morgantown community to promote character education on the following topics:

  • Academics
  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Bullying
  • Caring and Compassion
  • Courage and Responsibility
  • Drugs
  • Honesty
  • Humility and Behavior
  • Perservance
  • Reputation
  • Respect and Self-Respect
  • Self-Confidence
  • Sportsmanship
  • Teamwork
  • Values
Other goals of the SASO program include:

  • Increasing awareness of mandated character education in WV public schools (PK-12)
  • Offering WV middle schools tools a way to integrate character education into the existing curricula.
  • Offering discussion questions, scenarios, and suggestions for writing and speaking assignments designed to develop student critical thinking, reflection, interaction, and creativity
  • Offering middle school students the opportunity to investigate character education related topics either individually, in small groups, or in the entire class.
  • Encouraging discussion in an open forum among WV middle school students with regard to character education topics
  • Introducing WV middle school students to WVU student-athletes who are character education advocates:
    • Joe Alexander, Basketball (SASO DVD. Vol. 1)
    • Shawne Alston (Videos: Bully is Never okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Ashley Banks, Soccer (SASO DVD, Vol. 1)
    • Halimah Bashir, Track (SASO DVD, Vol. I)
    • Isaiah Bruce, Football (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Terrell Chestnut, Football (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Will Clarke, Football (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Mike Dent, Football (SASO DVD, Vol. I) (Videos: “Bullying is NEVER okay!” and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Liz Gulick, Volleyball (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Tito Gonzales, Football (SASO DVD, Vol. I) 
    • Jessica Harlee, Basketball (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Dorrell Jalloh, Football (SASO DVD, Vol. II) (Videos: “Bullying is NEVER okay!” and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Jonathan Kimble, Mountaineer Mascot (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Marquis Lucas, Football (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Keaton Miles, Basketball (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Kevin Noreen, Basketball (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Elizabeth Repella, Basketball (SASO DVD, Vol. II) (Videos: “Bullying is NEVER okay!” and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Alex Ruoff, Basketball (SASO DVD, Vol. I) (Videos: “Bullying is NEVER okay!” and “Character. Own it.”)
    • PJ Shirdan (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
    • Wellington Smith, Basketball (SASO DVD, Vol. II)
    • Caroline Szwed (Videos: Bullying is NEVER okay! and “Character. Own it.”)
SASO DVDs and videos that feature West Virginia University student-athletes speaking about character education topics are available upon request. The SASO website offers additional information, lesson plans, and links on character education and academic topics.

Note: Private schools in West Virginia may request the SASO DVD, Volume II if they can provide documentation that the highest grade level in the school is the 8th grade. The request and the documentation may be sent to Carolyn.Atkins@mail.wvu.edu.