Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Linda Hamilton


Served as envoy

  • 2007  –  Philippines
  • 2010  –  Ivory Coast
  • 2011  –  Brazil
  • 2013  –  Chile
  • 2014  –  Bangladesh
  • 2015  –  Burma
  • 2016  –  China
  • 2019  –  Egypt

Linda Hamilton enters her fifth season as head coach of the Southwestern women’s soccer team, coming off a season in which she was named the SCAC Coach of the Year, leading the Pirates to the SCAC Championship match.

Hamilton brings a wealth of experience to the program, both as a player and coach. She played collegiately at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, earning All-America status and all-conference honors all four years. She was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1988. Hamilton was a member of the United States National Team, where she played in 82 international matches. She helped the team to a World Cup gold medal in 1991 and bronze in 1995.

Hamilton, who owns a United States Soccer Federation “A” coaching license, got her start in coaching at Old Dominion University as the team’s head coach from 1993 to 1995. She later served as an assistant at Hofstra University (2006-2007) and most recently served as head coach at the University of North Florida (2007-2013). She has additionally worked with the Easter Seals and National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2002-2006), serving as director of development.

Zarko Cabarkapa


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Georgia

Zarko Cabarkapa was born May 21, 1981 in Zrenjanin, Serbia, Yugoslavia to parents are Zivan and Milka. He has one brother Milos who is 26 years old. Zarko grew up in Belgrade and began playing basketball at only 10 years old. Before going to the United States, Cabarkapa played for KK Beopetrol Belgrade and KK Budućnost Podgorica in Yugoslavia. When playing there he averaged 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Zarko was a member of the gold-medal winning Yugoslavian team at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis.

Selected by Phoenix with the 17th overall pick in 2003 NBA Draft, ending the Suns’ string of six-consecutive early entry picks he was one of a record 21 international players taken in the draft, along with Suns rookie guard Leandro Barbosa (Brazil). Zarko was later traded by Phoenix to the Golden State Warriors.

Wayne Ellington Jr.


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Cambodia

Wayne Ellington was selected 28th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft. Ellington, who spent last year with the Brooklyn Nets, has also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. As a collegiate athlete, he helped lead North Carolina to the 2009 NCAA National Championship and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 Final Four.

Ellington was the recipient of the 2015-16 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, which is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the NBA player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Shaquille O’Neal


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Cuba

Born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 6, 1972, Shaquille O’Neal is considered to be one of the most dominant basketball players in NBA history. At 7 ft 1 in tall and weighing 325 pounds, Shaq’s larger-than-life personality and powerful athleticism have resulted in worldwide adulation and one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and entertainment.

O’Neal played for six teams throughout his 19-year NBA career and was announced as a nominee for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on December 21, 2015.

Following his career at Louisiana State University, O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and later leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O’Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2004, O’Neal moved on to the Miami Heat and won his fourth NBA championship in 2006. Between 2007 and 2011, Shaq took his talents to Phoenix, Cleveland and finally Boston where he finished out is illustrious basketball career.

Shaq’s individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year. He ranks 7th all-time in points scored, 5th in field goals, 13th in rebounds, and 7th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O’Neal also ranks 3rd all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%).

Shaquille O’Neal’s off-court accolades rival his athletic accomplishments, having found success in acting, music, television and gaming. Currently, Shaq is an analyst on Inside The NBA.

Philanthropically, Shaquille’s relationship with the Boys & Girls Club of America dates back to his youth in New Jersey. As a national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, he has been participating in campaigns with the non-profit company for the past 15 years.

Jason Collins


Served as envoy

  • 2015  –  Brazil
  • 2016  –  Angola

Jason Collins is a retired American professional basketball player of the National Basketball As-sociation (NBA).

Collins attended Stanford University, where he was an All-American in the 2000-2001 season. He was also named to the All Pac-10 First Team and awarded the NABC Pete Newell “Big Man of the Year” Award. He finished his college career ranked first in Stanford history for field goal percentage and third in blocked shots. Upon graduating with a B.A. from Stan-ford, Collins was selected in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft with the 18th overall pick. Now a 13-year veteran, Collins has played center for six teams including New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, Washington and, most recently, the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets). Doc Rivers, who coached Collins during his time with the Boston Celtics, said of Collins: “He’s the best. He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach.” In his 13 years in the league, Collins’ teams earned 10 trips to the playoffs including 2 NBA Finals appearances.

After the 2012-13 NBA season concluded, Collins publicly came out as gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated, becoming the first male active player in any of the four major American professional sports to announce that he is gay. President Obama expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement and said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins has traveled the country with the mission of empowering people to live their lives as their true selves, and has become an active member of numerous charities, foundations and organizations. In 2013, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, honored Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards. In 2014, Logo TV honored Collins with its inaugural Trailblazer Award. Also in 2014, the Matthew Shepard Foundation honored Collins with its Making a Difference Award at its annual Honors Gala.

In April 2014, Collins was featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He served on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, which works to motivate Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle via physical activity and nutrition. Collins resides in Los Angeles, California.

Charlie Bell


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Cameroon

Charlie Bell is a former American professional basketball player of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Bell attended Michigan State University, where he appeared in three NCAA Final Fours and won the NCAA Championship in 2000. Undrafted in the 2001 NBA Draft, Bell had brief stints with the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks before playing professionally in Italy and Spain from 2002-05. He won the Italian League with Benetton Treviso in 2002 and was named to the Spanish League First Team for the 2004-05 season as a member of Leche Rio Breogan Lugo.

Bell joined the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks for the 2005-06 season and recorded his first career triple-double on March 28, 2006. He went on to play for the Bucks through the 2009-10 season before joining the Golden State Warriors for the 2010-11 season. Bell last played in 2012 for Otto Caserta in Italy.

Michael Haynes

American Football

Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Russia

Beginning his career as a three-year All-WAC star at Arizona State, Michael Haynes was a first selection in the 1976 NFL Draft and went on to play 14 seasons as a cornerback and punt return specialist in the NFL. During his rookie year with the New England Patriots, he led the AFC with 608 yards on 45 punt returns, earning him his first of nine Pro Bowl invitations. In 1983, Haynes was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders, whom he stayed with for seven years before his retirement at the end of the 1989 season. Haynes was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 26, 1997. Since retiring, Haynes has become an advocate for increasing benefits for retired players, particularly those who retired prior to 1993.

Billy Elmore

American Football

Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Russia

Billy Elmore began his coaching career in 1994 as the Offensive Line Coordinator for junior and senior high football in Barton, Arizona. From 1997 to 2002, Coach Elmore coached various positions at Greenwood, Arizona. Coach Elmore received his firth Head Coaching job in 2002 at Glen Rose in Malvern, Arizona. In this position, Coach Elmore was awarded Hootens 3A Coach of the Year following his 2007 football season. After leaving Glen Rose in 2008, Coach Elmore was the Head Coach and Athletics Director in Stuttgart, Arizona from 2010 to 2014. In 2012, the Ricebirds won the State Championship against Ozark, making Coach Elmore one of the three active coaches to have won a State Championship Title at two different schools. Since 2014, Coach Elmore has been one of the three head coaches for the Blue Devils of West Memphis. Certified “Heads-up”, a passion of Coach Elmore throughout his career has been coaching and promoting safer game play.

Mary Kate Callahan


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Uzbekistan

“My life and sports journey began when I was just 5 ½ months old. During the night a virus called Transverse Myelitis, attacked my spinal cord and left me a T8-T10 paraplegic. I began swimming as part of aqua therapy, joined my local swim club and never looked back.

As a high school swimmer I was a captain of Fenwick High School’s 2012 State Championship Runner-Up team. As part of my efforts to swim at the state high school championships I teamed up with the Illinois Attorney General and Equip for Equality. Together we compelled the Illinois High School Association to create opportunities for disabled athletes to compete in state level competitions. As a result of this effort, myself and six other girls were the first athletes with a disability in Illinois history to compete at the state championship swim meet.

In 2012 I became the youngest member of the USA World Paratriathlon Team and competed in my first World Championships in New Zealand. I have also been a member of the USA World Championship Team in 2014 and 2015. Last season I won the ITU London World Triathlon and ended the season as the #3 female in the world in my classification. In October I set the course record at Ironman Louisville (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run). I am committed to representing the United States in world competition and look forward to continuing my 2016 international season.

I serve as a mentor and motivational speaker discussing adversity and encouraging children and young adults to engage in an active lifestyle.”

Dean Karnazes


Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Kyrgyzstan
  • 2016  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2016  –  Uzbekistan
  • 2018  –  Peru
  • 2022  –  Fiji

TIME magazine named him one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Men’s Fitness hailed him as one of the fittest men on the planet. Stan Lee, of Marvel Comics fame, called him, “A real superhuman.” An acclaimed endurance athlete and NY Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, he’s run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He’s run across the Sahara Desert in 120-degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten separate occasions he’s run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the World’s Toughest Footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. He has raced and competed on all seven continents of the planet, twice over.

Dean is an ESPN ESPY winner, a 3-time recipient of Competitor magazines Endurance Athlete of the Year award and serves as a US Athlete Ambassador. He’s twice carried the Olympic Torch and in 2019 received the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dean and his incredible adventures have been featured on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, The Howard Stern Show, NPR’s Morning Edition, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the BBC, and many others. He has appeared on the cover of Runner’s World, Outside, and Wired magazine’s, and has been featured in TIME, Newsweek, People, GQ, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Men’s Journal, Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and the London Telegraph, to mention a few.

Yet, it is his unique ability to enthuse athletes of all abilities and backgrounds that truly set Dean apart. Despite his many accomplishments, awards and distinctions, he remains most proud of his ongoing contributions of time and funding to programs aimed at getting children and youth outdoors and active. He has raised millions of dollars for charity and was awarded the prestigious Community Leadership Award by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports.

Beyond being a celebrated endurance athlete, philanthropist, and bestselling author, Dean is an accomplished businessman with a notable professional career working for several Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. A graduate of the USF McLaren School of Business & Management, he is uniquely able to demonstrate how the lessons learned from athletics can be applied to business, and he is able to convey, with authenticity, the many insights he has gleaned along the way as a record-setting athlete and professional businessman.

Dean is a sought after speaker who has captivated and inspired audiences across the globe with his stories of persistence and perseverance. His dynamic, engaging and rousing presentations focus on going beyond perceived limitations to be the best that you can be. He talks about unlocking an inner strength to achieve extraordinary results. His real-life examples explore the topics of: dealing with adversity, overcoming obstacles, setting and reaching lofty goals, the importance of teamwork, even in solo endeavors, and excelling in a competitive, and often confusing, world. In his presentations, he examines and discusses the essential ingredients necessary for high-achievement and developing the ability to prevail and preserve against staggering odds.

Dean is believable, because his achievements and accomplishments are real. He delivers his message with the insight and candor that only an individual who has lived through such experiences can. Dean’s stories of endurance and perseverance are often comical, sometimes tear-jerking, and always thought-provoking and entertaining. His roster of clients include: Nike, Google, Sony, PepsiCo, Wells Fargo, Apple Computer, Merck, Toyota, Starbucks, Accenture, Stanford University, Yale, JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, Facebook, and a host of others.