Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Kirby Burkholder

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Albania

I was born and raised in small town Bridgewater, Virginia. I started my basketball career at Turner Ashby High School where I hold the all-time scoring and rebounding records, and have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. I continued my career at James Madison University, winning 2 CAA championships and holding CAA Player of the Year honors. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sports and Recreation Management.

After graduating, I played 9 years professionally, mainly overseas. I played in Italy (2 years), Belgium, Hungary (3 years), Poland, and Puerto Rico. I was also part of the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited, a new up and coming Women’s Professional Sports League in the United States. I will continue to play in season two this year and currently serve on the AU Player Executive Committee for women’s basketball.

Since retiring from playing overseas, I have worked in various youth basketball organizations gearing towards providing guidance, training, and leadership to youth sports initiatives. I am currently working with Slam City Management Group: one of 16 flagship programs of the Jr. NBA. Slam City works with local youth to provide opportunities to grow on and off the court through training and team programs, and is also connected to international federations by way of USA Basketball and FIBA to bring students to the US to gain higher educational and playing experience. I am dedicated and engaged to bring more awareness and support especially to women and girls in sports and providing them with more opportunities.

Chineze Nwagbo

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Azerbaijan
  • 2019  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Tanzania

Chineze Nwagbo started her basketball career at Duval Senior High School, in Lanham, Maryland where she is recognized as a 4 yr. varsity letter recipient, and two-time team captain. Her honors include2back-to-back State Championship Titles, All-American Honorable Mention, All-County First Team, All-Gazette, USA Today’s Most Improved and Most Important Player to Scout in Maryland, amongst a myriad of other accomplishments. She is a former Syracuse University student-athlete, who earned her Business of Science degree in Biology. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, Chinny went on to play as a professional basketball player for 11 years all over the world. She has played in various countries such as Spain(for six years), Chile, Brazil, Poland(for 3 years), Portugal, Israel, where she afforded 4 MVP Titles, and also appeared in the World Championship Games in 2006, representing her parent’s native country Nigeria.Currently, Chinny has ventured to new horizons working for the NBA, in China, developing grassroots implementation of NBA based basketball curriculum in various areas of Jr. NBA programs, also for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders developmental camps, and has been brought on to work for the Atlanta Hawks,NY Knicks, Washington Wizards, and the National Basketball Players Association.She has also participated as a lecturer, coach, and professor of the game for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Diplomacy program, which was designed in efforts to bring global communities together. She has also dedicated her time as a Motivational Speaker to various youth programs all over the world, and amazing non-profits geared toward providing resources for underprivileged inner-city student-athletes. In her spare time, she frequents New Channel 8’s Sports talk show as a guest sports analyst and hopes to play an instrumental role in the growth of the game, especially serving as a role model to young female athletes.

Ruthie Bolton

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Saudi Arabia
  • 2013  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2014  –  Moldova
  • 2015  –  Bangladesh
  • 2018  –  Armenia
  • 2018  –  Georgia
  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Albania

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA All-Star.

Scored over 2,000 career points, is fourth of the WNBA’s all-time 3-pointer list, and is the only player in the history of the Sacramento Monarchs to have her number retired.

First WNBA Player of the Week in July of 1997, a member of the 1999 First Team All WNBA, and a two-time WNBA All-Star in 1999 and 2001
The 1991 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

Played with the 1995-96 US Women’s National Team that compiled a perfect 60-0 record.

In four seasons at Auburn, she led her team to a combined record of 199-13, which included three Southeastern Conference Championships (1987-1989), four NCAA Tournament appearances and two runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1989.

She was named to the 1988 NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team.

A 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army.

2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

Chasity Melvin

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Kosovo

Chasity Melvin currently lives in Raleigh NC and works for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. She is the Director of High School Play4Kay and Coordinator Developer. Chasity is also host of her own podcast True Sports Talk Radio and recently self published At The End of the Day her first book .

Not only is she known for her stellar basketball career , her success with tendencies outside of sport includes giving back to the game by developing players and coaching them. Her athletic experience combined with her engaging personality with off-court activities makes her one of a kind.

Chasity played in the WNBA for 12 seasons, Cleveland Rockers, Chicago Sky, and the Washington Mystics. She also played internationally for 14 years in Spain, Russia, Poland, S Korea, Italy, Israel, Turkey, and China amassing championships throughout the world. She solidified her athletic prowess as one of the few females to play in all 3 professional leagues, the ABL, the WNBA and win multiple championships abroad in Europe.

Sam Perkins

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Algeria
  • 2008  –  Kyrgyzstan
  • 2008  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2009  –  Qatar
  • 2010  –  Indonesia
  • 2011  –  South Sudan
  • 2012  –  United Kingdom
  • 2022  –  Albania

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Perkins attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. He later attended and graduated from Shaker High School in Latham, New York. He was named large-school player of the year (high school) by the New York State Sportswriters Association in 1980 and was also named to the 35 Greatest Boys McDonald’s All Americans team.

Perkins attended college at the University of North Carolina and played basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1980 to 1984. He was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and starred alongside future NBA Hall of Famers James Worthy and Michael Jordan on the Tar Heels’ 1982 NCAA championship team. A three-time All-American, Perkins was the 1984 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Perkins finished his collegiate basketball career as the Tar Heels’ all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots and as the second-highest scorer in team history. He graduated from UNC in 1984.

Perkins was a co-captain of the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.

Chosen by the Dallas Mavericks as the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, Perkins went on to play as a power forward and center in the NBA from 1984 to 2001. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1985. Perkins played for the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Indiana Pacers, respectively. He scored a career-high 45 points on April 12, 1990. Perkins tied an NBA record on January 15, 1997 by making eight three-pointers without a miss. He appeared in three NBA Finals: The 1991 NBA Finals (with the Lakers), the 1996 NBA Finals (with the SuperSonics), and the 2000 NBA Finals (with the Pacers). In Game One of the 1991 NBA Finals, Perkins made a game-winning three-point shot to defeat the Chicago Bulls. He was known by the nicknames “Sleepy Sam”, “Big Smooth”, and “The Big Easy”.

Since his retirement in 2001, Perkins has been actively involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including Special Olympics, Nothing But Nets in conjunction with the United Nations, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers, Carolina for Kibera, NBA Cares, Basketball Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2002, Perkins was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team as one of the fifty greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

In 2008, Perkins was named vice president of player relations for the Indiana Pacers. That September, he was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

In October 2011, Perkins traveled to South Sudan as a SportsUnited Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, where he worked with Hall of Fame NBA center Dikembe Mutombo to lead a series of basketball clinics and team building exercises with youths, the South Sudanese Wheelchair Basketball Team, and 36 coaches.

Perkins was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Tiffany Roberts-Sahaydak

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2006  –  Uganda
  • 2007  –  Philippines
  • 2010  –  Thailand
  • 2011  –  Brazil
  • 2014  –  Brazil
  • 2015  –  Indonesia
  • 2017  –  Belarus
  • 2017  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Egypt

An Olympic gold medalist, World Cup champion and two-time NCAA champion, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak was named head women’s soccer coach at UCF in May 2013.

A three-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Roberts Sahaydak has wasted no time in putting her stamp on UCF’s successful program. Under her guidance, the Knights have earned four NCAA Tournament bids and four American Athletic Conference championships while boasting 11 conference Player of the Year awards and 38 all-league and tournament selections.

In her first season (2013), she led UCF to a school-record unbeaten streak (18 matches), an NSCAA national standing through much of the year and the program’s first undefeated conference season since 1999. In addition, UCF made history as the first program to win an American Athletic Conference Championship.

Roberts Sahaydak came to Orlando after serving six seasons at VCU alongside her co-head coach, husband and current UCF associate head coach Tim Sahaydak.

Roberts Sahaydak spent a decade with the U.S. National Team from 1994-2004, earning 112 caps (with 60 starts). Her career was highlighted by three women’s World Cups – among them, the unforgettable 1999 championship – and a gold medal with the 1996 Olympic team.

After retiring from the USWNT, she has served as an ambassador for U.S. Soccer with the U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy Program since 2007, promoting the power and benefit of sport internationally. With the program, she has visited Indonesia, Uganda, the Philippines, Thailand, Namibia, Brazil and France. In 2014, she was appointed to President Barack Obama’s Presidential Delegation to the Federative Republic of Brazil at the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. She is a native of San Ramon, Calif., and was selected as the 1994 California High School Player of the Year.

She was a three-time Parade High School All-American, a three-time NSCAA All-American and was the two-time National Girl’s High School Player of the Year. She debuted for the Stars and Stripes in 1994 when she was only 16 as one of the youngest players ever to suit up for the National Team. She played in her first FIFA Women’s World Cup a month after her 18th birthday and won Olympic gold before she was out of her teens (USSoccer.com).

As a collegian, Roberts Sahaydak was a standout midfielder for North Carolina (1995-98) as a three-time All-ACC First Team selection. She led the Tar Heels to two NCAA titles (1996, 1997) during her tenure, was voted the 1998 ACC Tournament MVP and finished third in voting for collegiate soccer’s highest honor, the Hermann Trophy.

She still ranks among the top five for career starts in UNC’s record book.She was a two-time captain for the Carolina Courage in the first fully professional U.S. women’s league (Women’s United Soccer Association). She helped the Courage win the 2002 title after finishing last in the team’s inaugural campaign one year prior.

Roberts Sahaydak took over VCU’s program in 2007 and led the Rams to three conference championship game appearances. She was voted as the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Co-Head Coach of the Year, along with her husband Tim. The duo mentored two CAA Defenders of the Year, one CAA Rookie of the Year and 20 all-conference players, including six first-team honorees.The Sahaydaks reside in Orlando with their two daughters, Layla and Evie.

“It’s been a life changing experience being involved in the Sports Diplomacy Envoys. I have had the good fortune of participating in programs all over the globe, and I’ve worked together with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I am constantly reminded that sport can bring us closer together. We can celebrate our differences and our common interests. Every time we start to play a game we start to connect and the world seems to get a bit smaller.”

Zola Solamente

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Bolivia
  • 2016  –  Jordan
  • 2016  –  Netherlands
  • 2016  –  Senegal
  • 2017  –  Belarus
  • 2017  –  Albania
  • 2018  –  Tajikistan
  • 2019  –  Bahrain

Zola Solamente began playing soccer at the age of 5, with her older brother and his friends. She continued to play with boys until middle school, when she switched to a female club team. From ages 12 – 17 Zola was a captain of her club team, as well as with the Olympic Development Program, and was a member of the East Regional team, which competed internationally.

Zola played at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 1990-1993. She was a starter at UNC for all four years of her career. She won 4 National Championships, 4 ACC Championships, and was named All-American her senior year. She was invited to play on the US Women’s National team in 1993. She traveled with the team for 2.5 years participating in international tournaments.

In 1995 Zola retired from international soccer to become a mother and pursue a career in fine arts. She now owns Arden Gallery Ltd. in Boston, MA, which she has been directing for 18 years. She continues to share her passion for soccer by providing individual and small-group soccer clinics to female players ages 12 – 18 in the greater Boston area. The focus of these training sessions is to improve technical skills, increase tactical awareness, and deepen strength/fitness levels. Since the fall of 2014 she has been traveling with the US State Department as a Sorts Envoy coaching and mentoring children in under-served and at-risk environments in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.