MIAC contest between Black head coaches ‘super significant’

Photo by Charles Hallman Ki Juan Ware

The countdown to history is winding down. The first-ever MIAC football game featuring two Black head coaches will take place at 7 pm Saturday in St. Paul when Macalester hosts Hamline.

“This is an exciting milestone in the MIAC,” said League Assistant Commissioner BJ Pickard, “though unfortunately one that is long overdue.”

The visiting Pipers are coached by Charles “Chip” Taylor, the league’s longest-tenured Black head coach, now in his sixth year. Ki Juan Ware is in his first season at the helm of the host Scots—he was promoted to interim head coach during the summer.  

Besides the fact that Saturday’s game is the annual Paint Bucket trophy contest that the two schools annually play for, the significance of two Black HCs at any level on opposite sidelines for the first time in Minnesota college history can’t be understated.

Courtesy Maryland Athletics Michael Locksley

“This one’s gonna be dear to my heart,” said Ware. “We can show future coaches, future African American coaches that it can be done.”

Added Taylor, “Obviously it’s super exciting. The first time two Black coaches facing each other is part of history, and being a part of history is the thing that shows how representation is important so young African American scholar-athletes can see this could be them at some point in the future. I think it’s definitely super significant.”

“Representation matters,” reaffirmed Pickard. “We need to continue our work to help candidates of color not only feel inclusive in the MIAC but earn positions of leadership in both coaching and administration within our conference. We’re doing a lot of good in the MIAC, and this is a milestone very worthy of celebrating.

“But the work can’t stop here,” he emphasized.

“Looking forward to the competition,” added Ware.

Charles “Chip” Taylor

Still a big deal

Maryland HC Michael Locksley last weekend was only the fourth visiting Black coach to lead a team at the Gophers football stadium. He is one of three Black coaches in the Big Ten, and one of 39 Black coaches hired since 1981.

The MSR asked Locksley during a Zoom call with reporters last Thursday if this is still a big deal. “Obviously we’d like for us to not be a big deal,” he responded. “Obviously it still remains an issue, which is one of the reasons I started the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches a year and some change ago.”

The NCMFC’s website points out that the one-year organization “wants to prepare, promote and produce minority coaches for coaching positions at all levels of football.”

“I’m very fortunate to have the platform I have,” said Locksley.