Middlebury

Panel of professional athletes to discuss issues of sustainability in sport April 7

March 25, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On Tuesday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m., a panel of sports professionals and environmental advocates will participate in a discussion at Middlebury College titled "Jocks and Treehuggers: Pro Athletes on Sustainability." The event is free and open to the public and will take place in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125).

Middlebury College Scholar-in-Residence in Environmental Affairs Bill McKibben will deliver the introductory remarks and Middlebury College Athletic Sustainability Coordinator Andrew Gardner will moderate the discussion. Panelists include National Football League professional Dhani Jones, professional soccer player Natalie Spilger and Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Alexander Wolf.

Jones, a player with the Cincinnati Bengals, rides a bike to the stadium for practices and games, works with Al Gore's climate change initiative, and promotes the World Food Program, which fights hunger worldwide. He also stars in the Travel Channel's new original series, "Dhani Tackles the Globe." By actively participating in some of the most beloved national pastimes from around the world, Jones discovers that sports have the universal ability to open a window into a culture, define a destination, and unlock a common passion in people that is as different as it is familiar. His enthusiasm, authority on sport and understanding of the issues of climate change make Jones a key player in sport and sustainability. 

Natalie Spilger, a professional soccer player, founded the athletic sustainability program GreenLaces in 2008. GreenLaces is a nonprofit organization that encourages athletes to be global leaders. The organization works with youth athletic leagues and after-school programs to educate children on the importance of recycling and eco-friendly lifestyles. It also recruits professional athletes that work to protect the environment to make their efforts public by publishing them online. Prior to that she worked with Connecticut-based EMCOR Energy Services as an energy engineer.

Wolff has been a writer for Sports Illustrated since 1980 and, in March 2007, wrote a ground-breaking article titled "Going, Going Green," an article that helped sports fans measure the effects of climate change on sport. Wolff is also the owner of the Vermont Frost Heaves, a premier basketball league team based in Williston. The Frost Heaves have taken on a number of sustainability measures to reduce their carbon footprint. Recently, the Heaves became athlete ambassadors to the climate change advocacy group 350.org.

For more information, contact Andrew Gardner in the Department of Athletics at 802.443.5963 or agardner@middlebury.edu.