“This never gets old winning a major event,” Sports Minneapolis Executive Director Melvin Tennant proudly declared to an invited gathering of officials, including the Minneapolis mayor, inside the downtown Lynx-Timberwolves arena.
“If a player [of color] growing up aspires to be a coach, and they see our conference or other schools that have hired African American assistant coaches as a path and a route for them [to become coaches], we are on board with that.”
Page is not the first Black grand marshal: Archie Givens, Jr. (2015), Clara Adams-Ender (2016), and Bobby Bell (twice chosen, 2001 and 2009) served in the past 25 years, U of M Alumni Association President/CEO Lisa Lewis pointed out. “Choosing Page was pretty easy,” she explained.
So the secret is out — diversity in MIAC volleyball has arrived. Diversity “is something that is necessary to have teams and people who reflect the world, and be leaders,” said Graves.
An extensive process of community involvement has preceded this public comment phase, and in a few parks the proposed improvements have generated some spirited debate. None, however, have been as controversial as the dome proposed for North Commons.
Buford, a Canton, Mich. native, was the Gopher game-day program cover story for the annual preseason classic Minnesota hosts on Labor Day weekend, the same time she earned her first start. When asked if she knew beforehand, the senior said she learned her starting assignment just prior to the match.
After nearly a half-calendar year on the Twin Cities campus, the team’s only Black player said she hasn’t experienced homesickness as most out-state freshmen typically face, but she wasn’t able to avoid the usual first-year athletic adjustments from high school to college ball. “The soccer is crazy different from playing in high school. A big surprise,” she quickly learned.
Macalester hired Graves in 2017 as head coach to replace former coach Annie Doman, who took a position in the school’s career development center, making this Graves’ third return to the St. Paul school. She was Denison (Ohio) University head volleyball coach for two seasons prior to this as well as a member of the school’s Black faculty caucus.
Atum Azzahir said earlier this year on a mental health panel at a Minnesota Public Radio-sponsored event that systemic racism “and the pain and suffering that cause trauma” among Blacks and other people of color should be taken into account by healthcare professionals when dealing with mental health concerns.
Henry Lake, in an MSR exclusive interview, cited a Barnett Sports Media report that found only two of the top 30 U.S. major sports towns, San Diego and the Twin Cities, with no regular Black on-air personality on weekdays.