Spencer (center, with whistle) and the Grassroot Hoyas
Tyler Spencer (GRD `09), a 23-year-old, recent alum of Georgetown’s graduate school, was awarded a 2009 Rhodes Scholarship along with 31 other American students on Sunday. Among the achievements he was recognized for was his creation of Grassroot Hoyas—a Georgetown varsity-athlete run soccer program for D.C. students which helped spread safe sex knowledge.
“Using the power of sports to fight HIV in D.C. happens in three ways,” Spencer told the Voice earlier this year. “One, you use the role model status of athletes to make that connection with the kids. Two, you use sports in our actual curriculum. We’ve taken a didactic curriculum that you usually just go into classrooms and teach kids and turned it into competitive activities that teach key messages. And thirdly, we play sports with the kids aside from the lessons that we teach.”
He said got the idea from working with Grassroot Soccer, a similar program, in South Africa. When he came to Georgetown’s graduate school and became a heavyweight crew team member, he recruited 40 fellow student atheletes to work three hours a week at Grassroot Hoyas in D.C. The program, he said, was a big hit with the kids, and many of their classmates clambered to get into the program, too.
Spencer is also the head coach for the National Deaf Tennis Team and a Morris Udall Scholar. He was accepted into a Master’s program at Harvard earlier this year.