While jump shots and rebounds earn recognition on the hardwood, the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team helps tell the stories of goodwill taking place off the court that often go unnoticed. It is those players who demonstrate the exceptional ability to balance academics with athletics while donating their limited free time to serving others, which have been selected to represent their colleges and universities for this prestigious honors.
Roeper was one of five Division I student-athletes chosen for the Good Works Team from 93 nominations and the lone underclassmen. A voting panel comprised of former coaches, media members and colelge basketball legends like Tamika Catchings and Alana Beard chose two 10-member teams comprised of five student-athletse from the NCAA Division I level and fife student atheltes from the NCAA Division II, III and the NAIA.
Roeper and the nine other members of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team will be recognized during the 2015 WBCA Convention and at the 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four® in Tampa Bay, and will also participate in a local community project benefitting the city.
“We are so pleased and happy for Devon to be recognized for her vision, selflessness and compassion to help others,” said head coach Stephanie Glance. “Her ability to build a basketball court and establish a basketball league in Mukono, Uganda, is an incredible accomplishment. She continues to reach out to the young people in Northern Uganda through the founding of her non-profit organization Team Phenom. Devon is making a huge different in the lives of others and while she doesn’t seek recognition for these accomplishments, she is certainly deserving to be acknowledged and honored for her attempt to make our world a better place for all.”
Roeper began her Good Works before stepping foot on campus in Morningside Heights. After her freshman year at The Bishop’s School, she went on a two-week medical mission trip to northern Uganda where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had been decimating the region and its people for a number of years. Roeper, along with her family, served 700 people a day in makeshift medical clinics, visited orphanages, and worked with the small impoverished community of Mukono, outside of the capital of Kampala.
Roeper’s work with the Mukono community continued as she teamed up with a friend, James Lock, and used basketball as the universal language to connect with the community she just left. Roeper and Lock put a plan together to build a basketball court in a jungle area outside of Mukono. After countless hours of negotiation and strategizing, the tribal king donated the land. Plans started coming together through Skype meetings with local contractors and $15,000 was raised by family and friendship circles to help fund the court. Roeper called her high school and Adidas for jerseys and new or lightly used shoes.
The court became a vital piece of Mukono community and served as a focal point and safe gathering place. Since construction was completed, three levels of both boy’s and girl’s teams have been formed and those teams compete in the amateur National Basketball League of Uganda, which brings a season of hope, pride and belonging to the Mukono community. The court empowered young female basketball players, whose previous social standing had been much different. Today women have uniforms, shoes, equipment, and the right to use the court with their male counterparts.
Before the start of her senior year of high school, Roeper got to see her vision that strengthened Mukono’s community when she visited the court. Her mission continued for her two-week trip, as she led a basketball clinic for the recently formed teams and Mukono’s youth with friends, family and fellow basketball players that traveled with 20 additional pieces of luggage filled with jerseys, basketballs, shoes and training aids such as cones and speed ladders.
Currently in her second season as a Lion, Roeper has “earned the respect of her teammates through her relatability and her unselfish work ethic,” Glance said. Not only does Roeper excel on the hardwood, but “she also excels academically while attending one of the most prestigious, selective and demanding universities in the world. She has a passion for learning, and is always seeking to ask questions and gain knowledge. She applies what she has learned in the classroom to communicate, think critically, and lead in everyday life. Devon enhances organizations in which she is involved, and because of her, Columbia University is a better place.”
Not only has Roeper brought her selfless attitude to the Columbia campus, but she continues to share it with the project that fueled her passion of giving back. On top of managing a student-athlete calendar, Roeper has co-founded an organization called “Team Phenom,” which is administered under the 501 c3 non-profit organization, Children’s Heritage Foundation, and a “Teammate” program that pairs up a basketball player in Mukono with a player, family, school, team or corporation in the United States. These partnerships are sealed with a contract that holds the players to a noble citizenship standard of excelling in the community and in academics. Along with the contract, the American teammate provides the funds for the Mukono player’s vocational or college education. With this promise, the emphasis on education helps “Team Phenom” truly create the “student-athlete” culture in an area where it has been absent for many years.
In addition to her work with Mukono, Roeper has participated in a variety of volunteer projects over the years including trips to Mexico, Tijuana and Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. She is also dedicated to the Challenged Athletes Foundation efforts and has helped organize a number of fundraising events such as triathlons and dinners.