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A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

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Honoring Jackie in 2014

Tuesday is Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. Every player on all 30 MLB clubs will wear the number 42 on their backs — the same number Robinson wore when he broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948; the same number every club permanently retired save for one day a year.  

“I’ve always known the significance of that number,” admits Minnesota Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks, the team’s only U.S.-born Black player, “definitely for me being a Black player.”

 

Hicks ranks Robinson in the same trailblazing light as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. “They are heroes, and he is right up there with them,” believes the second-year centerfielder. “He was the guy who took a lot of crap and handled it the right way. Continue Reading →

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March madness continues

 

 

The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) has a rich storied history dating back to pre-World War II days. The Women’s NIT since 1998 has tradition as well — just not as long as the men’s. However, present-day hoops fans and snobbish media types give both the Rodney Dangerfield treatment:

No respect for either of them. While there are those who only see one tournament, and while the men’s NCAA annually gets marathon King Kong coverage and barely Timberbell-like coverage on the women’s side, this reporter gives four-fold attention to the two bigger tournaments, as well as the NIT and WNIT. Both men and women Gopher squads this week are in their respective NIT sweet 16 — the men play Southern Mississippi Tuesday at Williams Arena, and the women go to South Dakota State on Thursday. Continue Reading →

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N-word flags?

 

 

 

The National Football League at times acts like glass house dwellers. The NFL brain wizards recently proposed penalizing players using racial slurs during the game. At the outset, this seems novel enough — racial slurs by anyone, even volleys between members of the same ethnicity, should not occur. But how will game officials accurately measure this, when every 45 seconds or so — every play — there’s stuff going on, especially across the line of scrimmage. Will the league install mikes in each helmet with a direct link to the referee? Continue Reading →

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