Oregon launches voting initiative

Every Oregon student-athlete has registered to vote in the upcoming election after the athletic department implemented the "Keep It 100" initiative.

Posted: Sep 26, 2020 1:15 PM
Updated: Sep 26, 2020 11:59 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon student-athletes will be taking their focus from the field of play to the ballot this fall. 

“Voting just seemed like a natural avenue to go down without athletes," assistant men's basketball coach Mike Mennenga said.

Mennenga and strength and conditioning coach Courtney Walden, who works with women's hoops and softball, started the "Keep It 100" voting initiative. The goal was to get 100 percent of all UO student-athletes registered to vote in the upcoming election.

“We wanted to educated them on how do I go about the actual process of voting and how to execute on that vote," Walden said.

The idea sparked from conversations among the Coaches 4 Change group, a national organization that was formed following the death of George Floyd. Mennenga and Walden are both involved in the group.

Now that every eligible student-athlete is registered the "Keep It 100" campaign has teamed up with on-campus student advocacy group, OSPIRG, and the Black Cultural Center to provide voter education resources for athletes. 

“It's walking them through what is the down-ballot? What does congress look like? What is it made up of? Stuff like that," Walden said. 

OSPIRG has also helped the athletic department implement a contest among each UO sports program to see which team can recruit the most non-athlete voters by the October 13 registration deadline. 

“We have a lot of high-profile athletes on our campus that we know can really make a difference," Walden said. "They want to make a difference. They want to find a way they can involve their community."

Mennenga is hoping this initiative can be a model for other schools around the country.

“We were absolutely blown away with how our administration, how each head coach and their contact withing the program just took ownership of it," Mennenga said. "The athletes bought in. We take a lot of pride of winning championships on the court. This is no different. We just want to champion this effort as well.”

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