When it comes to consistency, stamina and overall talent, Stanford junior Cameron Brink exudes those qualities on the basketball court with supreme excellence. Her resume has spoken loud and clear and continues to make noise as she has added the 2022 Pac-12 Co-Player of the Year plus a second consecutive Final Four appearance.
Now she is looking to translate those skills into the political realm as she is taking part in All Vote No Play, a student-led initiative that encourages student athletes to get involved in voting and civic engagement. After the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in 2020, All Vote No Play was developed by basketball coach Eric Reveno and Stanford professor Dr. Lisa Kay Soloman as a means to meet the intensity of that year’s social justice movement and promote the importance of being civically minded. That same year, the NCAA declared that on Election Day of every year, no practices or athletic activities will be held, thus giving student athletes the ability to cast their ballot without compromising the sports side of their lives. With the midterm elections coming up on Nov. 8, that same vigor is being tested.
Brink was contacted by AVNP and was more than enthusiastic to be able to lend her voice to the cause, which is entirely student led.
She also took part in one of the biggest AVNP events on Sept. 13 when her legendary coach Tara VanDerveer, former Secretary of State and Stanford alum Condoleezza Rice, NFL player DeMario Davis and her “God-brother”/NBA superstar Stephen Curry participated in a virtual discussion with student athletes about the importance of voter education and civic participation. The event also led to organized watch parties and the participants were able to ask questions of the illustrious speakers. For Brink, it was a transformative opportunity.
“It was super cool to be involved and I got to listen at the same time,” she said.
According to a study by Tufts University, nearly 50 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2020 election, which was an 11-point increase from the 2016 election. Even with the overwhelming challenges of COVID, systemic injustice and economic despair at that time, young people made their voices heard in unprecedented ways. Fast forward to 2022: Gun violence, reproductive rights, student loans, among other issues that resonate with that demographic are the forefront of our national consciousness. But with that could come feelings of apathy and a sense that their vote wouldn’t matter much, but Brink recognizes the power of a single action to help make a difference.
“An individual really has the chance to change things and have agency,” she said. “I just hope this encourages everyone to go vote.”
She also spoke towards the understanding that voting isn’t the be-all and end-all, but rather another tool in the toolbox of democracy. When it comes to reducing feelings of apathy, Brink has a message to other young people and student athletes about the impact they could have.
“It is your duty as a citizen to partake and to inform yourself,” she said. “One of your privileges as a citizens is to vote and make a difference.”
There is a broad consensus among the women’s basketball world that Stanford will once again be a national contender and may have a chance to get to the Final Four and perhaps win its fourth national title. For Brink, it is not just a matter of continuing to excel on the court in the short term, but to take that spirit into the voting booth for the long term. After all, much like basketball, democracy is very much a spectator sport and one that is worthy of upholding through mass participation.
The Washington Post’s motto is “democracy dies in darkness.” But thanks to people like Cameron Brink, it will remain a beacon of light.
For more information on All Vote No Play, click on the following link: www.allvotenoplay.org.