WATERLOO – Black athletes account for over half of the roster at Waterloo East and nearly half of Waterloo West’s football roster.
East coach Regis Baskerville and West coach Lonnie Moore are also Black.
Therefore, the movement for social justice that has gripped the United States this summer hits pretty close to home.
During their season opener, each coach left it up to their players to kneel or stand during the national anthem.
Some members from each team, along with cheerleaders from both schools, decided to kneel.
“We talked together as a team and I told our kids that you have a choice,” Baskerville said. “That is the best thing about America is that everyone has the power of choice and you get to make those decisions.
“The best thing about football is it doesn’t matter what your race, religion or the political views you have because we all have one common goal in mind. It is about a brotherhood.”
Friday, several Wahawks repeated kneeling for the national anthem prior to playing Cedar Falls.
In weeks leading up to the season opener, and again after the Jacob Blake incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Moore said he addressed his team about the issues gripping the United States.
“We knew the national anthem part was going to come up and we told them we support them whatever it is you want to do as an individual,” Moore said. “We first had our kids talk to their parents about it and then we brought it up again and we had a deep conversation about it and I thought our guys did a really good job of stating their stances.”
West linebacker/running back Michael Robinson Jr. said his team has always been supportive of him.
“We take it day-by-day and we’ve always had each other’s backs,” Robinson Jr. said. “We kneeled for the national anthem and our teammates who did not understood why we did it and supported us.”
West wide receiver/defensive back Tay Norman says he has never encountered a situation where his race put him in an uncomfortable situation, but still felt strongly that he needed to kneel.
“Our coaches said they would support us no matter what and that they had our backs,” Norman said. “I’ve never been racial profiled or anything like that. My teammates have always been there for me. We are a pretty tight community.”
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