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Mason and The Sports Analytics Club Program Playing the Game with Data


A Data Scientist was the highest paying entry-level job in 2019, with the median base salary of $95,000, in which according to Forbes it also held the lowest percentile of women, African Americans, and Latinos working in the field. To address this disparity, the CEO and Founder of the Sports Analytics Club Program Mr. Robert L. Clayton, Esq. collaboratively developed a partnership with Faculty member Ben Shields at MIT Sloan in 2017 where the Sports Analytics Club Program non-profit was born. This program is an innovative 6-19 STEM education and workforce development initiative designed to address the under-representation of young women and African American and Latino youth. SACP Founder Robert L. Clayton, Esq. explains, "The SACP is designed to address the digital divide and lack of access to technology for young women and African American and Latino youth in every community across the country and by collaborating with GMU to impact the under-resourced school districts in the DMV. We want to excite and motivate the under-represented populations of students to seek advanced STEM degrees in college and work in STEM-related positions within the technology industry in Northern Virginia. The Sports Analytics Club Program is not about pursuing careers in sports; it's about using data analytics combined with sports to teach Data Science. It's about identifying a societal problem in secondary education and identifying a solution."

In 2017-18 Edmondson-Westside high school in Baltimore, Maryland was considered to be one of the lowest performing high schools in math proficiency in the State of Maryland, and therefore a perfect “proof of concept” pilot Club for the SACP’s first project. In December 2017, the Club members submitted a 25-page Performance Portfolio to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame to advocate for Marvin Webster’s Induction. This was the first time that the Basketball Hall of Fame had looked at a data-driven decision to make an Induction. Marvin Webster graduated from Edmondson-Westside high school and received a scholarship at Morgan State University. Webster was the third pick of the 1978 NBA draft. It made the kids feel good to be a part of something of this magnitude. Until the Baltimore Sun, who wrote two articles about the student's work that inducted Marvin Webster, the students from the pilot program of SACP did not expect the attention that came. As their research continued, Edmondson-Westside’s Sports Analytical Club was featured in ESPN's Special on SACP - "Defy the Odds," a documentary on the pilot program started at Edmondson-Westside.

The second SACP research project was a Performance Metrics Study for the Quince Orchard High School's (QOHS) Head Boys’ Basketball coach Paul Foringer, which was in collaboration with Ed Tapscott, the former Vice President of the Washington Wizards. In collaboration with Tommy Balcetis of the Denver Nuggets, QOHS Teacher Advisor Michael Schweizer and Professor Romanelli from George Mason University were instrumental in leading the Club in creating the Jamal Murray All-Star presentation. This presentation was a research project to promote Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets for the 2019-2020 NBA All-Star game. Dr. Ralph Romanelli, adjunct professor of Computational and Data Science at GMU, is also the faculty advisor to the Quince Orchard High School’s SACP in Gaithersburg, MD. Professor Romanelli adds, "The SACP's strategy of teaming university professors, high school faculty and professional sports analysts to guide high school sports analytics clubs is a brilliant and winningcombination. It is an effective learning environment that is also fun for all involved, especially the students. The students view firsthand what it is like to have a career in data and sports analytics while engaging in meaningful real-life sports projects. SACP's vision, which it is already realizing, involves as many students as possible and encourages more women and minorities to get involved in data and sports analytics."

George Mason’s director of scouting and analytics, Mr. Tyler Jorns has invited the Sports Analytics Club members from Quince Orchard high school to see the college’s data analyst collect and analyze data. “We are very much looking forward to working with the SACP, the program is a wonderful opportunity to provide students with hands-on learning while dissecting competitive data from basketball in one of the nation’s top conferences. We are excited to see what trends and conclusions the students formulate while working with our team.” says Jorns. George Mason University is proud to be a part of the Sports Analytic Club Program to directly impact students who have been under-resourced and come from impoverished environments. This is an inspiring and innovative partnership that is critical to the Northern Virginia technology pipeline and surrounding communities. Mr. Clayton highlights the possibilities when students are given the opportunity to learn data science and analysis, “They had succeeded in inducting a graduate from their high school into the Basketball Hall of Fame – that's where we make a difference. Getting kids that otherwise would not have an interest excited and motivated through data science", says Mr. Clayton. Mr. Clayton continues, "We grew from there and now have 22 high school clubs and 28 university partners, with UCLA being one of our newest partners. See SACP Participating high schools and Universities.” With George Mason University being an active partner in the area, the Sports Analytical Club Program will accomplish its goal to diversify the data science field in new ways, producing the future generation of diverse data scientists equally represented by women, African American and Latino youth.