They normally let their game do the talking, but on Thursday, Oct. 26, the rules change for 10 West Virginia University student-athletes enrolled in a unique speech class thats a little bit about dictionand a lot about personal direction.

The students, who all wear the gold and blue on various Mountaineer 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, thats public speakingin all its sweaty-palmed, dry-throat gloryand its all part of Dr. Carolyn AtkinsSpeaking 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, first started talking about it.

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

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

Theyve been really honest and theyve given of themselves and their experience,Atkins said.Theyre role models, and I couldnt be more proud.

This semesters students and their topics:

  • Dennis Gagai,Captain Nick
  • Cameron Thoroughman,YOU are responsible for you
  • Joe Mazzulla,Growing Pains
  • Wellington Smith,Youre not in Kansas Anymore
  • Devan Baiwinkel,You CAN Go Home Again
  • Jacob Green,Outside the Comfort Zone
  • Jonnie West,A Friend and a Legend
  • DaSean Butler,No Miskeens or Omavis
  • Eric Turner,Dig the Coal; Build the House
  • Eric Wicks,Friends

Atkins in 2005 was named West Virginia Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) 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.