The student and athlete-led platform, UNCUT, celebrated its two-year anniversary this past week, marking a huge milestone for the platform.
But the platform knows that this is just the beginning for a group that is looking to spread its influence nationwide.
UNCUT is a storytelling platform prided on allowing athletes to express themselves off the field. Whether it is talking about serious topics like racism or mental health, or lighthearted topics like art or music, UNCUT wants to give the fan an insight into who the athlete is as a person.
Jill Shippee, one of the co-founders of UNCUT, believes that its mission is twofold.
“(It) started out as a way for student-athletes to share things that they’ve gone through or like share things that typically wouldn’t be covered,” Shippee said. “The other half of our mission is to kind of change the way that non-athletes and fans view those athletes."
UNCUT’s mission has offered a foundation that benefits all parties involved, spreading its messages through a variety of mediums including videos, writing and podcasts.
One of its two podcasts, "Benched" hosted by Jules Micchia, is just one example of how UNCUT provides athletes – female athletes in this scenario – a platform to comfortably express their views and share their stories here at UNC.
“Our goal is to shine a light on women’s stories and give women athletes a platform to share their stories,” Micchia said. “Because a lot of times, no matter what, women stories are less likely to be in the media, so Benched is just kind of trying to counteract that.”
UNCUT seeks to reach out to athletes for stories, while at the same time being approachable for athletes to share their own story. One of its primary focuses is on building lasting relationships with athletes before and after a piece of content is produced, showing the level of care that they put into who they are as people.
“We keep in contact with our student-athletes and oftentimes we’ll have them come back,” Shippee said. “We always want student-athletes to feel like they can come back to us and share whatever they want. Whether that be something published or whether they can just talk to one of us about things, which is awesome.”
When it comes to college athletes, they are oftentimes confined in a box to be just that – an athlete.
But UNCUT defies that, allowing them to show their personality and truly be themselves, reflecting its importance in the Chapel Hill community.
“When we highlight and appreciate the things they bring to the table beyond (athletics), that’s when we are really appreciating our athletes for who they are,” UNCUT business development associate Sam Hackett said.
But UNCUT is not just about the athletes; it is also about the people who are affected by these stories and content.
“They can recognize that it’s more than just a number on the field," Shippee said. "There’s an actual person behind that uniform, and that’s really important. And I think it makes sports even better when you can see that person’s background as well.”
Looking forward, UNCUT intends to expand its influence across the nation. They are viewing things on a larger scale not just for UNC athletes, but college athletes across the nation.
“If we really care about having our mission and our goal of kind of growing the voice of student-athletes, then why not try to bring it to other schools?” Hackett said.
With UNCUT planning to expand to in-state schools like Duke and Appalachian State and even northern schools like Northwestern and Wisconsin, there is no telling how far UNCUT can go.
But what is most important to remember from UNCUT is that these athletes are not confined to just their sport.
"They’re human as well," Shippee said.