Pam McGee, who touched the hearts of millions when she presented her 1984 Olympic gold medal to her twin sister Paula minutes after the U.S. women's basketball team had won the title, is using that same sensitivity and devotion to score points with thousands of black youths across the nation.
McGee, who along with her All-America sister and with Cheryl Miller led the University of Southern California to national prominence, said she wants to convince kids to use their athletic ability to further their education.
"We need more role models for our black youth in higher education," said McGee, who spoke at five District public high schools last week.
"Right now, too many of our kids only identify with athletes. We've accomplished a lot of goals but we have to keep striving to better ourselves."
The program, initiated by McGee and the USC admissions department, will take her on a five-city tour to commemorate Black History Month.
Other cities on the tour are New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles. The USC graduate said she will visit 50 schools and about 50,000 students and speak about topics from drug abuse to Proposition 48.
"I enjoy talking to the students. I just want to tell them that I came from a tough background and if I can make it, so can they," said McGee, who is from Flint, Mich.
"The kids have to learn how to use what is available to them. Everyone can take advantage of a college education. Those who are fortunate enough to be athletes can do that easier."
H.D. Woodson Coach Bob Headen said his girls team's 55-42 loss to Christ the King (N.Y.) and fall from the nation's No. 1 spot last week partly can be attributed to the smaller basketball being used this season.
"Our league is probably the only one that still uses the regular (larger) ball," he said. "We did all right the first half against Christ the King because we scored inside.
"But they had three 6-footers and sagged back against Tangreia (Green) and gave us the outside shots. The girls never adjusted to that smaller ball and we scored only 11 points in the second half.
"We made only three of 21 from the floor. You know my teams can shoot better than that."
Woodson has responded to the loss with three straight victories. The Warriors are 20-1 and one victory away from clinching the Interhigh League title and top seed in the tournament.