Updated: Oct 28, 2021
By: Peter Lujan
In addition to the pandemic, protests and activism defined 2020, marked by a growing movement calling for social change. The Ohio Wesleyan Volleyball team is trying to do that very thing throughout their spring season. Sophomore middle blocker Autumn Ford explains the impact the events of this summer had on the team.
“Some athletes feel similarly to me about the Black Lives Matter protest,” explained Ford, “others do not agree with it. Same with the pandemic. Some athletes take it seriously by being cautious and regularly wearing a mask, similar to me, and others do none of these.”
This division is a commonality all throughout the United States, it is now Ohio Wesleyan’s responsibility to help diminish this dichotomy. Sophomore outside hitter Eliza Richardson explains that Ohio Wesleyan is on the right track, but more work can be done.
“I think the athletic program as a whole recognizes the work that has to be done in order to achieve full social equality,” explained Richardson, “and that we can better the efforts of the OWU community by all athletic teams working together to address a very important issue, especially on a college campus.”
As a group it is important to discuss these topics as Ford explains,“We have had conversations on our team about these events,” said Ford, “They may be uncomfortable for people, but they are necessary.”
Richardson also realizes the impact a Caucasian centered university could have on a student of color.
“I think that as a predominantly white institution, OWU makes great effort in order to make campus welcoming to students of color,” explained Richardson. “However, due to the natural environment of PWIs, I understand that this may not always be the case.”
Yet, when it comes to students of color having their voice heard, Ford believes that the University has a way to go.
“ I know people have various opinions on this question,” said Ford. “I think there is a lot of room for improvement because to have everyone's voice heard means that there needs to be a space that is inclusive and comfortable for people to be their full selves. I am not quite sure the Athletic Department is there yet.”
Ford furthered these claims with basic and solid principles that the athletic department can follow.
“I think that in order to change that, there needs to be a collective effort from all students, staff, and administration to point out these issues when they arise,” urged Ford, “to ensure that all places on campus (academics, athletics, clubs, Res Life, Greek life) are working to ensure that students of color feel safe.”
The volleyball team isn’t just all talk either, as Richardson details a 2020 fundraiser the team initiated.
“We had a fundraiser last semester in order to raise money and give donations to the NAACP. We raised $785 to send all to the NAACP in order to address issues of racial injustice in the city of Columbus, and across the country,” said Richardson, “We also decided to purchase BLM T-shirts to wear as warm-ups and practice shirts this season in order to show our support for our teammates of color, and all OWU alumni of color that have come before us.”
On Sat. April 4, Ohio Wesleyan would complete a 2-0 series sweep of their rival Denison with a 3-1 match victory to top off their unbeaten season. The team played 8 interconference matches this spring. They didn’t lose one.