Cause, Sport: Maqulate Onyango/ GLOBAL SPORTS Mentoring Program

Meet my friend Maqulate Onyango (Maqui for short). 

If your looking for a great story to read, click on the link below as espnW shares how she is making with the Global Sports Mentoring Program in partnership with State Department. 


Speaker Maria Shriver and Maqulate Akorot

Speaker Maria Shriver and Maqulate Akorot

Here's the back story on how Maqui and I met and became friends this past fall. 

In October, I was able to meet and connect with Maqulate Akorot. In a room of 100+ people, I could hear from her accent that she was from Kenya (or at least Eastern Africa). Sheepishly I approached and asked where she was from. It was confirmed that she lived and worked in Nairobi! As you can imagine I immediately had a friend and confidant in the room. 

Then I asked who she was working for- CHRISC with a man named Mike. I couldn't believe it, in the entire metropolitan city of Nairobi we had a close mutual contact. CRISC is the exact same organization that Baylor connected the Youth Sports Team to in 2006. Mike was the man that coordinated the entire CD of children singing that launched the Omega Kids benefit concerts to build the Liberty House with Boniface.

It was in that moment when looking at Maqui (we gave her a American nick name) that I knew I was in the right place for a purpose. Things became more interesting throughout the espnWsummit as it was her first trip to the U.S. 

As a friend who knew her home of Nairobi I could explain our customs and see through her eyes our unusual surroundings. What we were eating and where we were located was not "normal" for all Americans. (We were eating the nicest food and staying at the St. Regis on the beach). Having her presence there reminded me even more of how thankful I was to be in the room.

One of my favorite parts of the summit, was many times Maqui and I would be talking with a new person and we would be holding hands, because we were so happy we found each other.

In Kenya, it is customary that friends will hold hands to show affection. Walking down the street, you will see all ages holding hands in friendship. 

What a remember most about Maqui is her infectious smile and laughter and how easily she extended a her hand of friendship to me.  In a room full of some of the most powerful women in the US she was not afraid to laugh loud and give amazing hugs. She was the definition of genuine. 

If there was a person in the last 6 months that has encouraged me and spurred me on to continue doing meaningful work it would be Maqui. 

I am so grateful to John Skipper of ESPN and Hilary Clinton (when she was Secretary of State) to create the Global Sports Mentoring Program through the State Department. Because of this program, Maqui was able to make the trip and take skills back to Kenya/Zambia to enhance their programs on the ground. 

I hope to see and maybe even work with this wonderful woman again someday. 

Until the, I celebrate this amazing woman from afar.  

Technology: Social Media Magic

One of the best parts about technology is that it connects people in ways never seen before in human history. No matter the decade, geographical location has separated friends and family. Yet today we live in the age of hyper connectivity, which cuts through the pain of distance. 


Through our mobile devices we are able to maintain more relationships, stay informed of real time events, and explore global communication threads. All this leads to making the world smaller and more connected than ever before. 

Thankfully, when we can't jump on a plane every month to embrace our loved ones, we have social media. Even on a surface level, daily we are given the option to "like", "favorite" and "double tap". These seemingly insignificant actions continue to feed and maintain valuable relationships. 

The world moves a rapid pace. The time between connecting face to face with people can quickly add up like dust on a shelf. Months quickly turn into years and then it will inevitably be time to play major catch up.

Technology and social media created my latest catchup with a dear friend, Morgan whom I have not seen in years in downtown Chicago. Without social media, and instant push notifications our last minute meet-up would never have materialized.



My flight was cancelled in Chicago and the first flight I could catch back to LA was not scheduled for another 24 hours. This hiccup in my schedule provided me with time to explore and be a tourist in a new city. I wanted to connect with friends in Chicago, but knew it was improbable due to the short and fast timeline.   

I completely forgot when passing through Chicago, that Morgan lived downtown. I thought she was now living in TX. Because of a post on Instagram it alerted a mutual friend who then notified us both to see if meeting up was possible. Where I lacked in my own physical memory, access to technology (and our magical friend Andrea) helped close the gap. 

Those push notifications from Instagram alerted Morgan, and within 5 minutes the two of us were texting and were able to make plans to meet up. This serendipitous encounter worked because Morgan was down the street from The Bean in Millennium Park where I was visiting. 

Technology enhanced human connection and a friendship that was way overdue for a hug. When we embraced, it was like no time had passed. She had the same mannerisms, vivacious personality and still was rockin' her signature style. (And yes, she totally looks like Cameron Diaz) Even in 30 degrees she came out in a jean vest and long sleeve shirt. No matter if she lives in the Texas heat or the Chicago cold -- the jean vest is a staple article of clothing for this woman!


Catching up felt like speed dating. We rushed through years in minutes, and quickly covered all our mutual friends. The time flew by but we laughed hard, eagerly listened, and encouraged one another to keep going. 


I loved exploring the city. One minute I was listening to Frank Sinatra taking selfies at The Bean; the next I was bobbin' along to a R&B drum beat mixed with a classic horn as I took the stairs to the underground subway system.

Exploring all day was absolutely amazing. Chicago has the big ambition of a NYC with the small in quirky charm of New Orleans. One thing is for certain, it has some of the kindest people working to direct lost tourists like myself. Someone even returned a $20 I dropped.  


I've been to many cities around the world, but for some reason never to Chicago. I left knowing I will be back. It was easily one of the most enchanting days; full of live music, sights and smells of public transportation, and bone chilling wind that made me feel tougher than I've felt in ages. 

And it's true, it is home to the best pizza is I've ever had. 

Without social media and technology today would not have happened.  

When it's possible to not only double tap a face on a screen but actually embrace in real life, it's more than worth it. No matter what new technology launches to keep us hyper connected it can not replace a good ole fashioned hug and eye contact by a dear friend. 

What a start and finish to a wonderful trip to the Midwest.

*There is actually software already in place to help with geographical locations of friends called Connect.