By: Maxmillian Robinson
The year 2020 has been plagued by coronavirus and political propaganda, as well as the ongoing problem of systematic racial injustice. The latter has led people around the country and the world to be proactive and protest what they see as unfair treatment that needs to be changed. Much of this has been through the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, where being an active voice is vital to bringing about change.
Adelphi’s athletes have been part of this movement. Earlier this year, members of the track and field team took to the streets for a peaceful protest in honor of the late Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot and killed by two white men while he was jogging in Georgia. These athletes have also been very vocal in their community gatherings by speaking out for other victims of racial injustice, such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. On top of this, most of the track and field team went to the polls and voted in the past election, favoring Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
“I feel Black Lives Matter has had a positive effect on our team,” said track and field player Kevin Nalisa. “Our team is one of the most diverse and inclusive teams on campus. We all feel strongly and greatly moved by the BLM movement and are always looking for ways to support and make a difference on campus and in our communities.”
His track and field teammate Ronan Smith said that the BLM movement has particularly impacted how the team communicates with each other.
“While the track and field team is usually a very diverse team, in the past we did not typically address these issues at practice or with our teammates,” he said. “However, this year it has become a prominent topic and with the social media exposure that has been cast upon it, we have definitely opened up a dialogue about the movement, whether it be between coaches or athletes.”
Men’s tennis player David Leader said although most of the team has not been around this semester, BLM has been a topic of discussion for the remaining players present.
The conversation of equality and fair opportunity carries over into team meetings, pre-practice times and even on the athletes’ free time. Coaches, staff and alumni are doing the best they can to inform the team regarding ways to help educate others on what minoritized figures face on a daily basis. The team staff are also giving tips on how to be involved in their communities the best way possible to fix racial inequality in society.
“Our team meetings have been a culmination of forums talking about BLM, injustice and hearing stories from people’s involvement in the movement, as well as meetings on the best way to deal with Covid,” Nalisa said. “Our head coach has also been doing a great job of keeping us up to date on everything going on in the NE-10, how the season/track meets might look, and when we can look forward to getting back on the track.”
Leader said that at the meetings, “we mostly talk about practice plans, as well as what we should expect for the spring semester. Since many of our team is at home overseas we have a chance to catch up on each other.”
Smith added that the track and field team has done a great job in providing ways to help players get involved in their communities to help create social change. This includes connecting the players to community organizations, cultural beliefs and events that players are welcome to participate in. To help them push forward when times are rough, coaches and captains provide support, the players said.
“Our team captains and our coaches have really helped to bring us together,” Smith said. “whether it be by providing emotional support or giving us the opportunity to take part in some very important discussions regarding race and inequality.”
Leader credits tennis captain and his roommate Luke Stirling. “We always try to bond as a team off the courts and reach out to each player. I give credit to the coaches too. Without the team meetings it would’ve much bigger challenge to keep in touch with the team.”
While some things may seem minor, one thing is clear. These athletes are all on the same page with each other, which is vital, for making a change.