Wake Up and Win the Day!

Recently, at our WBCA convention, we had programming on how we, as coaches, keep our student-athletes socially aware. Our young people are more “woke” than ever and some of them are directly impacted by social and political issues and some simply want to be involved. We had guest speakers and experts walk us through strategies and explain to us why it’s important that we have these tough conversations with our young adults. I’ve always been in favor of preparing student athletes for life, not just after basketball, but life outside of basketball. You can’t positively impact the world if you don’t know what’s going on in it.

This past year I sent out “Woke Night” invitations to our team. Purely optional, based on your own personal interest in the subject, (with one exception being the “kneeling/National Anthem” topic. That, we felt, was an issue so prevalent that it had to be addressed with the entire team and staff present.) This year we had “Woke Nights” covering depression/mental health, Title IV, self-esteem/empowerment, and sexual harassment. The goal was to inform and educate but in a way that elicited engagement and genuine growth. I chose relevant topics that affect or will impact our student athletes as young adults and most important, young women. I’ve never set out to influence anyone one way or the other. I think it’s important that young adults learn how to analyze information and form their own views vs. others thinking for them. I also think it’s important that they get their information from sources other than Twitter or Insta, so we used a variety of mediums to accomplish this. Books, documentaries, current movies, and even a Time magazine were our props. For some of our players, it was probably the first non-sports magazine they’ve ever owned. The excerpt below is from a “Woke Night” introducing our young people to the Silence Breakers movement.

“Wake Up!!!!! Good morning Beautiful People. Today our awareness introduces us to The Silence Breakers, the courageous and fierce (mostly) women and men who are speaking out against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Their voices and actions have had such an indelible impact that Time magazine has named them Persons of the Year. This recognition singles out the person/persons who have been most influential in the past year.

The #MeToo Movement was created in 2006 by an African American activist. What started as a Twitter trending topic has become a rallying cry for sexual harassment/assault victims all over the world. #MeToo is a safe place where victims can share their stories, offer support, or just know that they aren’t alone. WNBA Super Stud Breanna Stewart joined the movement as well as other popular athletes and celebrities, which gave a whole different level of credence to the cause.

“This year is an important reminder that the world can be transformed from the ground up.”

What Time magazine did is legitimize this movement - acknowledge the change, transformation and shift in attitude that’s occurred because of this movement. Victims with voices have given voice to otherwise silent victims. The beauty of this movement is women are empowering other women....and most important, young girls. Victims with voices have given voice to otherwise silent victims. The beauty of this movement is women are empowering other women....and most important, young girls.

In your generation, you have been encouraged to be strong individuals. In my generation and generations before, this was not the case. There have been other women who’ve tried to speak out without the same positive outcome. (See Anita Hill) The risks involved are life-altering. Fear of repercussions as severe as losing your job are at stake. If you’re a single mother, you can imagine how scary that would be.

The Silence Breakers are as diverse as our team, from various ethnicities, races, and socio-economic backgrounds, but the one thing they all have in common is they are COURAGEOUS.

The reality of being a woman is the same, but the risk each woman takes in speaking out varies. When I was a 23 year-old police officer, I was sexually harassed by my Sgt. I had to ride alone with him on special assignments - sometimes being in the patrol car 6-8 hrs at a time with him while I listened to him talk about his sexual exploits with Black women. “Black women,” he would tell me. “You guys are wild.” Or, “I like my coffee black and strong - just like my women.” I had a female supervisor, and I made a special request to no longer be assigned with him because he made me “uncomfortable.” She never asked for specific details, even though I’m sure she knew, and my assignments with him stopped. I didn’t know I could report him. I was young, right out of college, and I’m not even sure I knew it was illegal for him to be saying the things he was saying to me. I didn’t know the name for sexual harassment. I also didn’t want to be known as the “trouble-maker” in the department. I was one of 7 female police officers and the ONLY African American woman. I didn’t want to be the “angry black woman” that couldn’t take a joke. So I said nothing. I was silent.

The Silence Breakers have given YOU a voice to be heard and a platform to be seen. The Silence Breakers being named People of the Year is unprecedented. This is an issue that will affect you or someone you know in your lifetime, if it hasn’t already. You are not alone. They are not alone. WE are not alone.

The magazine is in your locker - I encourage you to read about these amazing women and this powerful movement. If any of you want to have follow up discussion, I invite that as well, and we can have a Woke Night at the house during break. In the meantime, as always, I encourage each of you to be aware of the issues that affect you as young women. Remember, you’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.

Stay Woke!”

Y’all stay woke too.


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