LOS ANGELES–Former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Dr. Julie Rousseau, who has more than 25 years of coaching experience and now serves as an adjunct professor of both identity development of the contemporary female and women and the law in the Gender and Sexuality Studies department at USC, will chair the USC athletic department’s Black Lives Matter Action Team (USCABLM), Trojan athletic director Mike Bohn announced Aug. 4.
In a letter to the Trojan Family on June 17, Bohn wrote, “indeed, this is a time for actions, not words. Our intention is not to take the first action, but rather to take the actions that will deliver sustained, long-term impact,” while announcing plans for the formation of the department’s Black Lives Matter Action Team to guide USC Athletics through a process of continued listening, learning, leading and educating. The ultimate goal is to implement a series of meaningful and substantive actions and reforms consistent with the essence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Specifically, in solidarity with Black student-athletes, coaches, and staff in USC Athletics and beyond, the USCABLM Action Team will examine and address social injustices experienced by Black student-athletes at USC.
“Raised in Los Angeles with experiences as a student-athlete, college and professional coach, and educator, Julie is uniquely qualified to lead our USC Athletics Black Lives Matter Action Team,” said Bohn. “Julie’s passion and vision, strong leadership skills and outstanding reputation, as well as her innovative academic background, make her a wonderful fit to guide this critically important initiative. In alignment with the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts, the Action Team will work collaboratively with student-athletes, including representatives from our Trojan Athletic Senate and United Black Student-Athletes Association, to ensure that all voices are equally represented and the actions we take reflect our collective spirit and desire for change.”
Additionally, Bohn identified members of the steering committee that will collaborate with Rousseau on the eventual execution of the actions and reforms identified through the work of the USCABLM Action Team. The steering committee, which meets weekly to monitor progress and debrief on the various town hall, group and individual meetings occurring regularly within the program, includes Bohn, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator Joyce Bell Limbrick, Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Alan Green, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services Dr. Denise Kwok, Deputy Athletic Director Paul Perrier, and Senior Associate Athletic Director/Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna.
The USCABLM Action Team will be joined by an advisory committee that will support Rousseau’s work by providing ideas and feedback as representatives of the broader athletics program. The advisory committee features student-athletes, coaches, and staff, and there will also be engagement with alumni, former players, and campus and community leaders. The USCABLM Action Team will interface with the United Black Student-Athletes Association (UBSAA) and the Trojan Athletic Senate (TAS).
The advisory committee is as follows:
Student-Athletes (7): Ethan Anderson (Men’s Basketball), Croix Bethune (Women’s Soccer), Desiree Caldwell (Women’s Basketball), Mireille Codjia (Women’s Rowing), Ben Easington (Football), Joy McArthur (Women’s Track and Field), John Thomas (Baseball)
Coaches (8): Aarika Hughes (Women’s Basketball), Jason Hart (Men’s Basketball), Mike Jinks (Football), Kris Kwinta (Men’s Tennis), Keidane McAlpine (Women’s Soccer), Lindsey Munday (Women’s Lacrosse), Jeff Nygaard (Men’s Volleyball), Caryl Smith Gilbert (Track and Field)
Staff (10): Kevin Bolen (Student-Athlete Academic Services), Chanel Buccola (Human Resources), Dylan Firsick (Sports Psychology), Greg Gilbert (Development), Craig Kelley (Marketing), Jordan Moore (Digital Media), De-Neita Peoples (Compliance), Hatcher Parnell (Facilities), Dunford Rodill (Athletic Medicine), Kurtis Schultz (Strength and Conditioning)
“First, I’d like to thank Mike Bohn for allowing me to be a part of his vision for the Trojans Athletics Department,” said Rousseau. “I am excited to chair USC Athletics’ Black Lives Matter Action Team. This will be a supportive team effort aimed at eliminating social injustice and racism within Trojan Athletics, the University and its surrounding communities. Like the late, great civil rights activist and Congressman John R. Lewis once said, ‘We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.’ The time begs for us to continue the work and legacy of our ancestors. For such a time as this, I hope to be a bridge builder for creating an environment that exemplifies regard and respect for the lives of Black student athletes at USC. All Lives Can’t Matter, Until Black Lives Matter.”
Rousseau was an assistant with the Sparks in the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 season, then took over as interim head coach for that season’s final 17 games. She was named the head coach for 1998 and served in that role for the first 20 games. Among the Sparks players she coached were former Women of Troy greats Lisa Leslie and Pam McGee, as well as international women’s basketball icons Zheng Haixia from China and Mwadi Mabika from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
She then was an assistant coach at Stanford for four seasons (2001-2004), helping the Cardinal to a pair of Pac-10 Tournament crowns, before rising to become Pepperdine’s head coach for nine seasons (2005-13). Under her direction, the Waves won the West Coast Conference Tournament in 2006 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, then played in the WNIT in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, she was an assistant coach on the USA team that won a gold medal at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia.
Rousseau spent 2014 as a color analyst on Pac-12 Networks women’s basketball telecasts.
She was an assistant at Nevada in 2015, then spent the 2015 WNBA season as an assistant and culture coach with the Seattle Storm. While completing her doctorate degree, she served as a graduate assistant at Arizona State for four seasons (2016-19), also assisting with the program’s marketing, community relations and student-athlete welfare.
She began her coaching career at Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles from 1990 to 1997. As an assistant coach, she helped coach three straight L.A. City Championships (1990-92) and then won the 1996 L.A. City girls basketball title and was the 1997 Coach of the Year. She also coached the boy’s freshman and sophomore teams and taught physical education.
Rousseau received her bachelor’s degree in education (physical education/kinesiology) from Cal State Los Angeles in 1991, a master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine in 2012 and a doctorate in human systems engineering from Arizona State in 2019.
She played basketball at UC Irvine in 1983 and 1984. She was inducted into the CIF L.A. City Section Hall of Fame in 2019.
“The anger, sadness and desperation that I have heard from our student-athletes has led us to an unrelenting resolve to effect change,” said Bohn. “Our shared mission is to confront – head on, together, and with urgency and purpose – the social injustices that are tearing our communities apart. We all share the same commitment to building an inclusive athletics program that provides our student-athletes with a safe and supportive environment. We stand for justice and embrace a culture of respect for all.”