by Jack Belanger ’21
Nick Sailor ’17 can be associated with a lot of firsts since stepping onto campus back in 2013. He was the first male student to graduate as a women’s studies major, co-founded the Black Chalk Corps Council within Teach for America down in Baltimore, and was named Providence College’s first director of training and education for diversity, equity, and inclusion back in October, a new position created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the athletics department to help promote these ideals within athletics but across campus.
And ironically, had another school not been recruiting him to play soccer, Sailor may not have found the College at all.
Sailor and his father came to Providence to meet with a coach who worked at a different school within the city. The two arrived early and Sailor’s father suggested they visit PC to kill some time. Immediately, Sailor fell in love with the campus, though it was not until later in his recruitment process that he got the chance to consider PC.
“As the [recruiting] process got going they reached out to me, because they were interested in me as a soccer player,” Sailor said. “And I told them ‘I actually really liked this school from a while ago.’ It all came together where I fell in love with the school first then the soccer part came second.”
For the next four years, Sailor showed what it meant to be true student-athlete, finding great success on and off the field. He played four seasons for the men’s soccer team and was named co-captain during his senior year. While he only scored three goals in his career, it was the last one that came at one of the most important moments in the program’s history. It was the second round of the NCAA tournament against the undefeated University of Maryland where the Friars found themselves down 2-4 with just over 20 minutes left in the game.
After the Friars forced a turnover and went on the attack, Sailor found himself with the ball outside the box and ripped a shot from the right that was just out of the Terrapin goalie’s reach. The goal closed the gap 4-3 and helped fuel the Friars’ comeback. They eventually upset Maryland 5-4. Sailor admitted that it was not until after the game was won that he was able to appreciate the goal.
“If I took a second to think about how crazy the goal was, I think I would have been out of order,” Sailor explained. “So, all I was thinking was, ‘This can’t be my last game,’ and I was focused on what I could do next to keep things going.”
While Sailor played on some successful teams, what he took away most from his time on the team was the brotherhood they built and connections he continues to keep with former teammates and former coaches.
For as much of an impact he made on the field, Sailor made just as much of one off of it. He served as the President of Student-Athlete Advisory Council, a Friar Foundation mentor, and sang with the Footprints Gospel Choir. Rather than focusing his studies in one area, Sailor double-majored in sociology and women’s studies, while also minoring in black studies, fitting for someone who has spent his time after graduating focused on empowering others and striving for inclusivity everywhere he goes.
Upon graduation, Sailor joined Teach for America and moved to Baltimore, where he became a special education math teacher at Walter P. Carter Elementary & Middle School. Not only did he help shape young students, Sailor worked on supporting black educators in the Baltimore area.
“It was a good time for me to be there after graduating. It was good to go to a new place and while it was challenging at times, I was surrounded by many talented young black entrepreneurs and learned from them to grow as a young professional.”
In Baltimore, Sailor helped co-found the Black Chalk Corps Council, a group within the Baltimore corps that strived not only to help empower black educators within the classroom but also outside in the community. He pointed out that data shows that black educators go through challenges on a day-to-day basis that other groups do not experience, such as having to be a disciplinarian. Sailor stressed that it is important to support black educators since they only make up 10 percent of all educators, yet they have a great value in public schools.
“The Council gave us the support to help black teachers flourish which, in turn, allows for our students to flourish. And overall that was our goal: to see our students be successful.”
After two years in Baltimore, Sailor received a call from PC about a new position that focused on diversity in athletics. It seemed like a perfect fit for him after showing passion in promoting diversity during his time in school. Eventually it was announced on Oct. 25 that Sailor would become the College’s first-ever director of training and education for diversity, equity and inclusion, a position that is not very common in colleges across the country.
Since it is such a new position, Sailor says most of his day-to-day work involves what he calls “infrastructure building.” Not only does he plan for what the next year will look like, but also set the stage for the position years down the road. While having no predecessor has its challenges, Sailor enjoys how much freedom he has to shape the job to fit the needs and culture of PC.
One of his biggest goals in his new role is to push the value of student-athletes’ mental health, something that he brought up during his time as a student-athlete. He also wants to connect with the entire athletic department and push the ideals he has been promoting since day one.
“For me, I want to bring the value of inclusion, diversity, and equity and show how it can be valuable to the different facets of the athletic department.”
One of the initiatives Sailor has already created is called “Wisdom Over Waffles.” The monthly event gathers the athletic staff into one room to discuss topics of diversity and inclusion in how it relates to sports over chicken and waffles. Sailor is focused on creating consistent events that continue the conversation of diversity rather than just one-time events such as bringing in speakers. He has given presentations to different teams while trying to connect to students as much as he can.
Looking back on his time as a student, Sailor believed the two things that have helped shape his career has been discipline and commitment. When it came to teaching, he believed in the idea of being a light for others and doing everything he had to support students.
“No one had to convince me to work hard. No one had to convince me to get up early and prepare. I knew if I had the passion in something, I could give it everything I had.”
This drive and passion that has led Sailor to create change everywhere he has gone. He has been given the tools to have an influential impact at PC for years to come.