Both Macalester and Hamline are preparing for this weekend’s MIAC contests. But last weekend’s matchup between the two clubs in St. Paul won’t be soon forgotten.
It wasn’t the final score last Saturday—Macalester 23, Hamline 13. Nor that the winning Scots have now won three of the past four games for the Paint Bucket, which has been awarded to the winner of this game since 1965.
This 119th meeting between the two St. Paul schools began in 1887, making it one of America’s oldest college football rivalries. But of all those games, last Saturday’s was the first time ever two Black head coaches were prominently featured on their respective sidelines in the MIAC and the first in Minnesota college football history.
The MSR was the first among local media to point this out over two months ago before mainstream media got hold of it last week. Their stories got more attention, however, in the days leading up to the historic contest.
Macalester in 1971 hired Don Hudson as the first Black head football coach at a non-HBCU institution in the modern era. Taylor in 2016 became the MIAC’s second Black head football coach, and this summer Ware became its third. Mac now has two Black HCs, Ware and MBB’s Abe Woldeslassie, and a Latina president, Dr. Suzanne Rivera, since 2020.
Dr. Fayneese S. Miller, Hamline’s president since 2015, is the MIAC’s longest-running Black president in league history. Taylor in his sixth year is the league’s longest-running Black HC.
“Who would have thought in Minnesota,” exclaimed Scots Athletic Director Donnie Brooks, one of three MIAC Black ADs. Actually, the league has as many Black ADs as the much bigger Big Ten, and his school has more Black HCs (two) than much bigger Minnesota (one).
“We don’t want to do this just once. We want to elevate our programs to show what excellence looks like, and diversity and inclusion on a national stage,” said Brooks.
Two hours before kickoff: Macalester’s KiJuan Ware and Hamline’s Chip Taylor stood together, posed for photos, and did short mainstream media interviews. Then the two soon-to-make-history Black coaches spoke with this reporter:
Ware: “This is a fraternity. Chip and I talk. We are just trying to get our crews prepared and make sure we put on a good front on the field. It’s going to be a fun night.”
Taylor: “I want to see him do well.”
One hour before kickoff: Milkee, a Mac sophomore, admitted, “I didn’t know we had a Black coach. I’m not much of a football fan.” After a brief history lesson, “Wow,” she reacted. “Especially for institutions like Macalester, which is predominately White and has Black coaches…this is important.”
The game: Macalester led from start to finish, just as they won three of the past four games against Hamline. After the game:
Ware: “Me and Chip embraced [at midfield as the final horn sounded]. It’s not about us coaches. It’s about these [players].”
Taylor: “It is a significant game. I wished we could have come out on the other side. Hats off to Coach Ware. He did a good job.”
Epilogue: “I think it is the epitome of what we aspire to do,” surmised Brooks of the historical milestone. “There are a lot of institutions that preach diversity, but it is something special to actually see it acted on.”
Finally: “We appreciate you guys covering us,” said Taylor to the Black Press.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.