Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Marcelo Balboa

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2006  –  Nigeria
  • 2008  –  Nigeria

Former San Diego State University men’s soccer player Marcelo Balboa was a two-time All-American and led the Aztecs to two NCAA Tournament appearances in 1988 and 1989. SDSU posted a combined record of 29-8-7 in Balboa’s two years and he was inducted to the Aztec Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.

Following his time at SDSU, Balboa played professionally in Mexico and the U.S. until 2002, spending 1996-2001 with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer (MLS).

On the international stage, Balboa became the first American to earn 100 caps with the U.S. National Team and played in three World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998). Balboa was named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1992 and 1994 and has been inducted into both the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the Colorado Hall of Fame.

Balboa has been broadcasting since 2003 and has covered the Colorado Rapids for Altitude TV the past 13 years. He coached his sons, Owen and Nicholas, at Monarch High School before becoming the head coach for the Colorado Rapids Development Academy’s U-14 squad.

Jeff Pill

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  El Salvador

Jeffrey Michael Monken (born April 15, 1967) is the head coach of the Army Black Knights football team. He was formerly the head coach of the Georgia Southern Eagles football team. He previously served under Paul Johnson as a running backs coach and special teams coordinator at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech.

In November 2009, Monken was hired to succeed Chris Hatcher as the head coach at Georgia Southern. In his first season with the Georgia Southern, Monken led the Eagles to an overall record of 10–5 and to the 2010 FCS Playoffs Semifinals, defeating top-ranked and previously undefeated Appalachian State to begin a streak of six consecutive wins.

In 2011, Monken led the Eagles to an overall record of 11–3, the Southern Conference championship and a second-straight trip to the 2011 FCS Playoffs Semifinals. He was named both the AFCA 2011 FCS Region 2 Coach of the Year and the Southern Conference Coach of the Year.

In 2012, Monken again led the Eagles to a Southern Conference Championship with a 10–4 overall record, a third consecutive FCS Semifinal Game appearance and final No. 3 national ranking. Georgia Southern accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference in March 2013 and subsequently made the move to FBS. In its first transition year in 2013, the Eagles were not eligible for the NCAA playoffs and ended their FCS history with a 26–20 victory over Florida in the season finale.

On December 30, 2013, Monken was introduced as the 37th head coach of the Army Black Knights football program.

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.

Lynette Woodard

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Saudi Arabia

Considered one of basketball’s greatest female players, Lynette Woodard excelled in the sport during her professional career in the 1980s and 1990s. A two-time Olympic Game basketball player, Woodard served as co-captain of the United States’ gold medal team in 1984. She became the first female member of the famed Harlem Globetrotters in 1985, and was named Big Eight Player of the Decade for the 1980s. In 1996 Woodard was named best female player in Big Eight Conference history, having set career records for scoring and rebounding. After a four-year retirement in the mid-1990s, Woodard returned to join the new Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), playing for the Cleveland Rockers and the Detroit Shock. A worldwide basketball star, Woodard is known equally well in her native United States as in Italy and Japan, where she has also played professionally.

Kym Hampton

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Thailand

Kym Hampton is a former professional basketball player who completed a 15 year career in the WNBA, Spain, Italy, France and Japan. A high school basketball and track star from Louisville Kentucky, Ms. Hampton was inducted into the Dawahares KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2005. She attended Arizona State University on a full athletic scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Kym will go down as one of the most decorated players to ever wear a Sun Devil jersey. To date, she remains the all-time leading scorer and rebounder (male or female) in ASU history. During Kym’s 12th season in Europe, the WNBA was formed. Ms. Hampton
was the 4th pick in the Elite first round draft, by the New York Liberty. Kym was voted starting center in the WNBA’s inaugural All-Star game. During Kym’s three year tenure, she started every game for the Liberty until a knee injury curtailed her career.

Hampton has lived one dream through basketball and is pursuing others in the world of sports and entertainment. As a person who has always worked to reach goals and follow her dreams, she also encourages everyone to do the same, especially our youth. Two of her favorite sayings are; “Be the best YOU that you can be.” and “As adults, we must lead with our actions, not our words”.

Jennifer Azzi

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Tanzania

Jennifer Azzi is a former collegiate and professional basketball player, a former basketball coach, and an Olympic and FIBA World Champion. Azzi was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

With achievements ranging from seven hall of fame inductions, an Olympic Gold Medal, Stanford National Championship, Two World Championships, the Naismith Award, Wade Trophy, a successful WNBA career, and coaching the University of San Francisco Women’s Basketball team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 20 years, Jennifer Azzi’s achievements have firmly established her as one of the most accomplished figures in sports.

Off the court, Jennifer is a well-regarded speaker, author and community supporter, and serves as an ambassador for the sport both locally and internationally. Locally, through her very successful Azzi Camps, she teaches lessons both on and off the court. Through her role as an NBA Academies Global Director and Jr. NBA Ambassador, Azzi has traveled thousands of miles representing the NBA to countries such as Africa, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Canada, India and China. In addition, Azzi conducted the first-ever NBA clinic held at the White House, with President Obama. Most recently, her community involvement has been seen through the NBA Cares program, partnering with the Golden State Warriors and other notable Bay Area figures to positively serve area youth.

Becky Bonner

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2008  –  Kyrgyzstan
  • 2013  –  Ukraine
  • 2014  –  Sri Lanka
  • 2015  –  Saudi Arabia

Becky Bonner enters her first season as Director of Basketball Operations for the University of Louisville women’s basketball program. Bonner joined Walz after spending the last season as the Assistant Director of Operations at the University of Maryland.

At Maryland, Bonner worked with marketing and promotions, as well as facilitating the day-to-day operations of the team, which included supervising the team’s managers.

Bonner joined the Maryland staff after a successful stint playing professional basketball in Sweden and after a four-year career in collegiate basketball.

Bonner began her collegiate playing career at Stanford University, helping the Cardinal win the 2002 Pac-10 Championship. She transferred to Boston University after her sophomore year and started in all 30 games of the 2003-04 season. She earned third team All-America East Conference honors, after averaging 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game her junior year. She set the single-season school record with 72 three-pointers, while shooting 42.9 percent from behind the arc.

In her two seasons with the Terriers, Bonner connected on 113 three-pointers, which ranks fourth in the career annuals and ranks second all-time with a 37.3 career three-point shooting percentage.

After graduation from Boston University in 2005, Bonner spent the summer working for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats minor league baseball team before being contracted to play with Sweden’s Norrkoping.

Bonner is a native of Concord, N.H. She was a third team Parade All-American at Concord High School and was selected her home state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. In her junior year, she averaged a triple-double with 28.4 points, 16.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game while earning All-American honors from Street & Smith’s that year.

Bonner earned a degree in communications from Boston University. She is the younger sister of Matt Bonner who is a member of the 2007 NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs. Her younger brother, Luke, will be a junior at UMass where he is a member of the basketball team.

Erikka Gulbranson

Volleyball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Brazil

Erikka has had 28 years in the sport of volleyball with her experience ranging from playing, coaching, directing and managing youth, collegiate, USA and international teams. As a founder in Sports Academy, she has been instrumental in the development of sports programming. With her extensive knowledge of sports curriculum and implementation, she will lead Sports Academy athletes into the full-circle development model through systematic training sessions, clinics, and camps.

Erikka grew up locally, is a volleyball & softball alumni of Thousand Oaks High School as well as So Cal VBC & Zuma Bay VBC. She is married and holds an M.S. in Education, a B.S. in Physical Education, and a California Teaching Credential. She spent 10+ years in several So Cal school districts teaching physical education and developing fitness & sports curriculum for elementary schools. She is also a USAV C.A.P. III certified teaching instructor and National Teams Master Coach.

Ashley Dean

Volleyball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Brazil

Ashley Dean is a former volleyball for Dartmouth College. She grew up playing soccer, softball, and volleyball but decided to exclusively play volleyball during her sophomore year of high school. As a senior, her volleyball skills earned her recognition as La Jolla High’s female athlete of the year. During her first year at Dartmouth, she averaged 13 digs over 10 games, including 30 digs against Princeton during the Ivy League tourney. As a sophomore, she set a record for 476 digs during one season and was ranked 12th in the nation. Her skills earned her All-Ivy first team selection.

Sam Perkins

Basketball

Served as envoy

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

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.