They normally let their game do the talking, but on Thursday, March 2, the rules change for six West Virginia University student-athletes enrolled in a unique speech class that’s a little bit about dictionand a lot about personal direction.

The students, who all wear Mountaineer blue and gold on various sports teams, will deliver five-minute motivational speeches before their coaches and others from 1-2 p.m. in the Jerry West Lounge of the WVU Coliseum.

Yes, that’s public speakingin all its sweaty-palmed, dry-throat gloryand it’s all part of Dr. Carolyn Atkins’Speaking to Communitiescourse in the College of Human Resources and Education.

The course is popularly known asJock Talk,and that was the whole idea in 1990 when Atkins, a speech pathology and audiology professor, came up with the idea.

Craft was the catalyst back then, Atkins said. The course’s mission was to do a slam-dunk, end-around on all those verbal fillerstheumsandyou knowsthat permeate everyday speech while especially making their presence known in post-game interviews.

With athletes being the most visible members of the study body, they should also be the most articulate, Atkins said.

Along the way, an amazing thing happened. The athletes began sharing their personal stories. They talked about the rough times coming up and the coaches and other mentors who inspired direction not just to Division I competitionbut to a college education.

They’ve been really honest and they’ve given of themselves and their experience,Atkins said.They’re role models, and I couldn’t be more proud.

This semester’s students and their topics:

  • Joshua Oliver,Escape to WVU
  • Joe Alexander,Just Say No
  • Geoff Cameron,The Three’Ds
  • Alex Ruoff,Courage
  • Rayshawn Bolden,Learning from Others
  • Jarrod Smith,In His Shadow

Atkins in 2005 was named West Virginia Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The selection was based on her work with upper-division speech honors students as well as her speech class for student-athletes.