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Cavalier Circle

Meaningful, lasting relationships, bolstered by shared understanding and experience.

The demands and pressures on today's student-athletes are many: go to class, go to practice, pass the test, win the game, be a good teammate, be a good role model, call your mom, learn your playbook, do your laundry, brush off the bad play, push your body to the limit, meet with the professor, get your lift in, write the paper, get the treatment, watch the film, figure out what you're gonna do with your life when you graduate. And the list goes on...

But, it's largely the same stuff now as it was then. And it's in these moments where the wisdom that comes from experience and perspective proves itself invaluable. 

 

The Cavalier Circle mentoring program exists to guide our current players in their personal and professional development via "walk-thru-life" relationships with former players who have walked similar miles in similar shoes. What began in 2023 with 25 mentor/mentee pairings in the pilot has extended to 100+ alums matched with every single player.

Kam Butler

Florence, KY
M.Ed. '23

“I think it’s a great idea, especially for young guys to just kind of look up to someone that’s been in their shoes or is in the area, or has done what they aspiring to do,” Butler said. “I think it’s really beneficial for those guys. I think it’s beneficial for everyone, really, even the older guys and sixth-year, fifth-year seniors. I think it’s cool that you learn about some of the history of this football program and this university through former players as well.”

ANTONIO RICE

Charlottesville, VA
CLAS '87

“[The Pollards] were my sponsor family, and they wrote the book in terms of how they treated me and how they, I guess you could say, mentored me... When you come to school, you want to go to class, you want to do well, you want to help the graduation rate, and you want to play ball, and then everything else is just noise. The Pollards did a wonderful job of saying, when it was too noisy and there were things that I couldn’t control, ‘Hey, why don’t you come over to dinner?’ Or they would make cookies or brownies. Whatever it was, it just gave me a chance to block out all the noise that didn’t matter and be at peace."

TONY ELLIOTT

Head Football Coach

"Football is a brotherhood, and when you look at a place like this and all of the great players and great teammates that have come through here and the passion that they have for this place, it never dies. So this is a great way for the former guys to be able to stay connected to the program... And for the current players, I want them to have somebody that they can reach out to that’s walked where they walk, lived where they live, been through the Virginia experience."

JONAS SANKER

Charlottesville, VA
Foreign Affairs '25

"What I enjoy most about [William Frazier '85] is that he’s a really good listener. He gives his own feedback, but it feels like I’m having a personal conversation. It doesn’t feel like I’m just talking to someone who’s old or can’t really relate to me. I feel like there’s a lot we can relate to with each other... For the mentors, it’s good for them to be able to have an opportunity to come back and find a way to be involved."

The Circle begins when a player arrives on Grounds and gets paired with a mentor. Year One.

 

Those relationships deepen over the subsequent years as the player navigates college, football, and life. Conversations are had, meals are shared, families are introduced, connections to other alumni are made, discernment is discerned. All the while the iron is being mutually sharpened as both sides give and receive.

And though the formal commitment is fulfilled when the student-athlete walks the Lawn at graduation, it never really ends. The inter-generational friendships continue to grow, The mentee keeps following the circle, gains his own wisdom in the world, and, in time, becomes the mentor.

 

Rinse and repeat. 

How it works

  • 9 - MBAs

  • 6 - lawyers

  • 1 - nuclear engineer

  • 34 - advanced degrees

  • 14 - Business / Finance majors

  • 7 - Foreign Affairs majors

  • 114 - participating mentors

  • 18 - represented states

  • 74 - proud Virginians

By the numbers

A tremendous amount of trust has been extended in arranging these relationships. For the sake of the players, the program, and the Club, it's critical that we maintain that trust by always remaining in the know and on the right side of all compliance related issues. Without exception. Athletics Compliance can help navigate any questions. "When In Doubt, Ask Before You Act"

BENEFITS

Permissible

  • Mentorship Program Guidance from UVA Compliance a. Alumni can provide occasional meals to a student-athlete at any location. A meal should not occur more than once a month (on average).

  • Alumni can help a student-athlete with guidance about career opportunities and/or other personal endeavors.

  • Alumni can assist a student-athlete engage in networking and obtain legitimate employment.

  • Alumni can employ a student-athlete as long as he is performing work and is compensated at a rate that is commensurate with his experience and at the going rate in that locality for similar services.

 

Impermissible

  • Alumni are not permitted to make special arrangements for a student-athlete that aren’t available to other students (extra benefits).

  • Alumni aren’t permitted to provide a loan or co-sign a note for a student-athlete.

  • Alumni are not permitted to provide the use of an automobile, house, boat or similar types of items to a student-athlete.

  • Alumni are not permitted to pay for travel or transportation for a student-athlete.

  • Alumni are not permitted to pay for entertainment, groceries, rent, services or other day-to-day activities for a student-athlete.

 

 

NAME, IMAGE & LIKENESS

  • The University of Virginia cannot facilitate or be involved in a name, image or likeness opportunity between a student-athlete and any other party.

  • If a student-athlete and alumni engage in a name, image and likeness opportunity, it must be independent of the mentorship program.

  • A student-athlete’s name, image or likeness opportunity cannot be pay-for-play or an inducement to remain at the University of Virginia.

Compliance Guidelines

Past Present Future

RELATED INFO

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