About Orange Arrow

The mission of Orange Arrow Players Association is to coach student-athletes to aim for success off the field. 

Why Orange Arrow Exists

Too many young people are not developing the social and emotional skills they need to successfully manage modern life. 

This includes the ability to act independently and adjust to changes on-the-go, to communicate and work well with others, to be empathetic, creative, persistent, resist stress, think critically, exert self-control, demonstrate leadership, and more.

These social and emotional skills matter, directly affecting life outcomes. 

This gap is real for the millions of student-athletes.

45 million youth ages 6-12 (Active Kids), eight million high schoolers, and nearly 500,000 college students (NCAA, 2019) participate in at least one organized sport.

Young athletes are experiencing the same challenges with social and emotional development, mental health, and peer group influence. 

Gaps for athletes matter for everyone. Athletes influence adolescent peer culture, so social and emotional skill deficits among athletes manifest negatively for everyone.

This includes the ability to act independently and adjust to changes on-the-go, to communicate and work well with others, to be empathetic, creative, persistent, resist stress, think critically, exert self-control, demonstrate leadership, and more.

These social and emotional skills matter, directly affecting life outcomes. 

Universities and employers are picking up the tab. 

Less than half of employers rated recent college grads as proficient in areas like Professionalism/Work Ethic (42.5%), Oral/Written Communications (41.6%), Global/Intercultural Fluency (20.7%)  and Leadership (33%) (NACE, 2018). 

Colleges are spending significant time and resources on remediation, while also investing unprecedented amounts in non-academic and social and emotional support. 

College athletic programs have been on the front lines of both of these challenges, adding psychologists (WSJ, 2018) and life skills support staff to their payrolls and seeking new solutions to supporting athletes on and off the field (NCAA, 2015)

Fortunately, great things are happening. 

Traditional education organizations are now advocating for a more holistic approach that addresses social and emotional development. 

New organizations are emerging to advance this agenda. 

New tools and frameworks are available to help align approaches and assess progress.

Major universities are investing in support for athletes to help them develop the life skills and dispositions to succeed off the field.

This includes transition services, Life Skills programming, mental health services, and student-athlete success centers. 
Sports-specific approaches to supporting grade school student-athletes are also emerging. Many organizations are researching, promoting and pursuing strategies including training coaches on social and emotional development and peer-to-peer mentoring. Organizations like the Positive Coaching Alliance and Aspen Institute are providing resources, connectivity, and thought leadership

Athletes are stepping up, and professional sports leagues are contributing. The NFL Foundation’s Inside Out Initiative is working to “redefine the role of interscholastic sports and help intentionally develop the educational, social and emotional well-being of each student-athlete”, and is now “funding statewide implementation” in nine states with plans for expansion. The US Soccer Foundation pursues a similar effort through Soccer for Success

While there is great work happening to integrate social and emotional learning into sports, there is much less effort underway to integrate sports into social-emotional learning. That’s where OA fits in. 

We are bringing a fresh new angle to this growing movement. To learn more about our unique approach, click here.

“This is the best program I have been to in my life.”

– Jaison

The History of Orange Arrow

Shawn Robinson understands the value of positive mindsets and transferable life skills. Orange Arrow’s founder was a highly ranked college football player, widely expected to go to the NFL when an injury derailed his football dream. 

Thankfully Shawn had developed a transferable set of skills, habits, and social connections that enabled him to bounce back and find a new path to a fulfilling life. Since then, Shawn has been on a mission to make sure that ALL young athletes acquire the life skills to succeed off the field, and be prepared to win in the game of life.

He founded Orange Arrow in 2013 with this mission in mind. The pilot program connected the University of Pittsburgh student-athletes with grade school student-athletes in three Pittsburgh Public Schools. 

Today, Orange Arrow has tested and refined its model with over 1,000 students in two cities, Pittsburgh and Miami. The vision for Orange Arrow is to partner with 15 Power 5 Universities by 2026 to implement a strategic approach to community engagement that increases the personal development of college and grade school student-athletes. 

OA’s goal is to be operating successfully in 15 cities / towns at 15 Power 5 universities, and 105 grade schools in 2026.

“As a kid, I looked up to older student-athletes and I think I’m in a position now that I can be a role model. It’s very important for me to show those kids the right way and give them everything they can get out of me.”
– A. Kessman

The Orange Arrow Team

Shawn Robinson

Founder & President

First Quarter: Shawn is from Warren, OH and attended Warren G. Harding High School where he played football, basketball, and track.

Second Quarter: He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he played football. He graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Communication & Rhetoric and a minor in Sociology, and later obtained his Master of Business Administration from Strayer University.  

Third Quarter: Shawn is a part of Orange Arrow because ultimately he aspires to make a difference. Shawn is the recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, an award established by President George W. Bush, and the City of Pittsburgh declared December 4, 2018 “Shawn Robinson Day” for his service to the community through Orange Arrow.

Fourth Quarter: Deion Sanders is his favorite athlete of all time.  

Tamica Mickle

VP, Operations

First Quarter: Tamica is from Pittsburgh, PA and attended Westinghouse High School where she played basketball.

Second Quarter: She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she was a member of the basketball team, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and, later, a Masters in Education.

Third Quarter: Tamica is a part of Orange Arrow because it plays a pivotal role in the lives of student-athletes by setting the tone and preparing youth to be successful in life. Anyone can be great at sports, but it’s how well you adapt to life after sports; how well you connect with the real world by utilizing the resources and people you have met along the way to reach your goals.

Fourth Quarter: Florence Griffith Joyner is her favorite athlete of all time.

Dvonya Sedlacko

Coordinator, Human Resources & Volunteers

First Quarter: Dvonya is from Latrobe, PA and attended Latrobe High School where she played basketball.

Second Quarter: She attended the University of Pittsburgh and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, and later obtained a Master of Professional Writing from Chatham University.

Third Quarter: Dvonya is a part of Orange Arrow because she wants to make a difference and see young athletes have a future and have the skill sets necessary to make them elite. She says there is a world of opportunity for our youth, but not everyone has the support needed to be able to obtain their dreams, but, with Orange Arrow, we can help them to succeed and hopefully one day make those dreams a reality.

Fourth Quarter: Michael Jordan is her favorite athlete of all time.

Ron Idoko

Coach and Consultant

First Quarter: Ron is from the Bronx, NY and attended John F. Kennedy High School where he played football.

Second Quarter: He attended the University of Pittsburgh, was a member of the football team, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He later went on to obtain his Master of Public Administration in Urban and Regional Affairs. 

Third Quarter: Ron is a part of Orange Arrow because he loves the impact it has on young student-athletes and he truly believes that Orange Arrow represents the new-age model of social skills development.

Fourth Quarter: Michael Jordan is his favorite athlete of all time.

Lucas Tucci

Coordinator, Programs

First Quarter: Lucas is from Verona, PA and attended Penn Hills High School where he played volleyball.

Second Quarter: He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he played volleyball and graduated with a degree in Media and Professional Communications.

Third Quarter: Lucas is a part of Orange Arrow because he wants to help inspire student-athletes. He wants to be a voice and reason behind why youth grow up to be young adults who have a clear vision of what success is and to know that they have the skill set needed to be successful in life. He also wants to show them that there are so many ways to live a successful life and sports are great, but that shouldn’t be your only option for the future.

Fourth Quarter: Steve Nash is his favorite athlete of all time.

Hannah Smith

Team Manager

First Quarter: Hannah is from Hollidaysburg, PA and attended Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School where she played soccer for an indoor club team.

Second Quarter: She attended the University of Pittsburgh and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with minors in Political Science and History.

Third Quarter: Hannah is a part of Orange Arrow because it steps in at a crucial time and helps student-athletes to broaden their horizons and learn about all of the opportunities for growth outside of sports.

Fourth Quarter: Wayne Gretzky is her favorite athlete of all time.

Rafael Araujo-Lopes

Manager, Programs

fFirst Quarter: Rafael is from Kissimmee, FL and attended Winter Park High School where he played football and ran track. 

Second Quarter: He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he played football and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Public Service with a focus in Nonprofit Management. He currently plays in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Redblacks.  

Third Quarter: Rafael is a part of Orange Arrow because he believes OA create a dynamic space where grade school student athletes and college athletes can foster authentic relationships. He considers this to be an important factor in developing life and social skills. 

Fourth Quarter: Adrian Peterson is his favorite athlete of all time.

“Helps me learn how I can aim for success.”

– Charles

Orange Arrow Board of Directors

Jody Spolar

Chairperson

Amy Raslevich

Secretary

Lousaka Polite

Vice Chairperson

Shante' Pumphrey

Director

Alex Matthews

Director

Chad VanHorn

Director

Roberto Croce

Director

Justin Rudd

Director

Donna Sanft

Director

Duane Starks

Director

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