Say Something, Do Something

Say Something, Do Something...and don't stop.
Say Something, Do Something...and don't stop.

Like many people, I have struggled to find words to express my feelings and emotions over what has taken place in Minneapolis, the country and the world over the past 10 days. I have been driven to tears on multiple occasions not just out of sadness but because of the joy I see in the changes that are taking place to a system that has been in place for decades. After much thought and introspection I have come to the conclusion – I must say something and do something to be a voice for change.

Not only do I want to take action but I ask all the coaches in the MIAC to “Say Something, Do Something” and be a voice for change.

I am in the very unique position of having been associated with this great conference as a student/athlete, assistant coach, head coach and an administrator for over 35 years. I have coaching friends from every school in every sport in the MIAC and have seen firsthand how much influence the coaches have on their student-athletes. The words and actions that come from the coaches in the conference stay with student-athletes for a lifetime. You have the ability to shape and mold a generation that will continue to advocate for social justice and anti-racism for years to come.

I have won MIAC championships at every step along my journey but when I reflect on my time spent coaching, I have failed because I never actively spoke up and became involved. Like many who are involved in athletics, I was the coach who always said “I don’t see color.” I only saw student-athletes who played the game the right way, were good teammates and helped drive the team to its goals. Because of the recent events I know now that viewpoint is uninformed. I never took the time to see the difficult path that black athletes had to lead every day of their life. I never had them tell their life struggles to the rest of the team so that the other players could have their eyes opened to the difference. I never advocated for the justice they should have received as part of the team and community. I am sorry that I sat silently by and didn’t actively become a voice for the black student/athletes who came from a very different background than myself and some of their teammates.              

One of the ways I can make a difference now is to plead with the coaches in the MIAC to not make the same mistake. You have the ability to actively make a difference for black and brown student-athletes in your program. Even if you don’t have student-athletes of color on your team you can still educate your players about how black lives matter and have them understand the issues of social injustice.
I know that most coaches in the MIAC have already held meetings with your teams to discuss, and react, to the events of the past week. I applaud you for that. But that is only a start. The purpose of my challenge is to create a plan of action to go forward: Be a voice for change and don’t stop.

Continue to be actively involved in the issues of racism, discrimination and social injustice. Be a voice for change on the issues when you first meet with your team in the fall, winter or spring. Talk about how black lives matter during the second week of practice, after the first game, midway through the season, when times are tough and when you are having success.  I challenge you to continue to be a voice for change and “Say Something, Do Something”.

Imagine how many student/athletes you could educate, learn from and learn with - if you continued to be a voice for change every year you coach? Don’t make it a one-time situation when it is the “hot topic” but continue this momentum next year, and the year after and four years down the line. Think about the difference you would make if a graduating class had heard your voice for change on social injustice issues being taught on their team for four straight years.

Think of the impact it would make if you had a black student come and talk to your team about the struggles they face every day because of the color of their skin. What if you had a minority student discuss the difficult path they had to walk to get to where they are? The impact that would have on your program would continue to blow the winds of change which has already begun in our community over the past 11 days. Please – be a voice for change, Say Something, Do Something…and Don’t Stop.

I’m not asking a few groups of coaches to be the voice of change. I’m asking for every coach in every sport. It’s for every cross country, football, golf, soccer, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, hockey, nordic skiing, swimming and diving, synchronized swimming, track and field, water polo, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, softball and tennis coach that makes up this outstanding conference. Think of how loud the voice for change would be if ALL the coaches - Say Something, Do Something and Don’t Stop.

I will also ask myself to listen and become more actively involved. I want to volunteer for conference committees on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I will be more involved on campus and become a better advocate for black student-athletes and will continue tell their unique stories so people can become more educated.     

I know that we are opponents when the game starts but when the competition ends we should vow to be a single MIAC family that comes together to be a voice for change and makes a difference for black lives and social injustice. One of the first steps you can take is to make sure your student/athletes are informed about the importance of voting, not only at the national level but at the local and state levels as well. Make sure they have the information to get registered, are educated about the candidates and then allow them to vote if it coincides with a practice or team meeting.

You can also be a voice for change by explaining the importance of being actively involved by speaking up and giving time to help out with community initiatives.    

We may be different as Auggies, Royals, Knights, Cobbers, Gusties, Pipers, Scots, Bennies, Wildcats, Johnnies, Cardinals, Oles and Tommies but we should all be united as one to actively be a voice for change and Say Something, Do Something….and Don’t Stop!

Jim Cella
Director of Sports Information

Here is a tremendous resource page that was put together by Bethel assistant football coach Mike McElroy:
70-plus Resources For White People