ETSU women’s basketball team reflects on last summer’s steps to racial justice

Black History Month

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A summer to remember.

“I remember it being heartbreaking and horrific at the same time,” ETSU head women’s basketball coach Brittney Ezell said.

Through a once-in-a-century pandemic, when a virus killed thousands, it was a different form of killing that proved so sickening.

“A lot of emotions, a lot of built up happenings all combining in this perfect storm when the world was quiet and when sports were quiet,” Ezell said.

The racial injustices towards George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake were felt nationwide, including in the sports world with powerful moments last year in the NBA and WNBA bubbles.

“To see that the WNBA with the names on the shirts, I was leaning more towards the women because women have to have a voice as well and women haven’t always had that voice,” ETSU junior Shynia Jackson said.

“We have a phrase that we use in our program: ‘are we measuring what really matters or are we only measuring what’s easy to measure?’ It’s easy to measure points, it’s easy to measure wins, it’s easy to see a kid in uniform and measure them by that standard. Let’s measure them by something that really matters

ETSU head women’s basketball coach Brittney Ezell

The ETSU women’s basketball team felt their voices needed to be heard.

“That we needed to say something and something had to be done and there’s only so much that you can say on the topics you can continue to say that you need to continue to raise awareness but at the end of the day something has to happen something has to change,” ETSU sophomore Mykia Dowdell said.

So they marched, alongside other athletes and members of the ETSU community.

“We’re all individual teams but when we all put our collective voices together that march was very powerful to see tears in kids eyes when they’re marching because they feel like they’re making a difference you know you’re doing the right thing,” Ezell said.

“Being able to be an athlete and for us to go out there, we were able to use our voice for the people that don’t have a voice and step up and say what we feel as a community we need to say, so those people who don’t feel like they have a voice can feel like they’re being heard.”

ETSU sophomore Mykia Dowdell

It was more than just a march; it was a statement of power and a moment in history they’ll always remember.

“With people’s eyes already on you, you might as well use your voice use your platform raise awareness the WNBA teams with the shirts the I Can’t Breathe shirts those are important because in those moments George Floyd and Jacob Blake they couldn’t use those words,” Dowdell said.

“Satisfied, that’s what I would say, satisfied but still determined so don’t give up,” Jackson said.

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