Under challenging circumstances, MSUM’s winter sports teams performed remarkably well. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams qualified for their conference tournaments, where the men played for the tournament championship. For the fifth time in ten years, the men’s team received a bid to the NCAA tournament, falling in the second round to the second-ranked team in the nation. Student athletes on MSUM’s wrestling and track and field teams also qualified for NCAA championships, with triple jumper Shyrone Kemp earning 5th place and All-American honors in track and field. So far, our spring sports are following suit. Women’s tennis is tied for first place in our conference with a 16-0 winning streak including last season.
These athletic accomplishments are noteworthy. But I’m more proud of how our athletes have performed beyond their sports by using their platform as student leaders to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through Dragons Stand Together. Initiated by athletes following George Floyd’s death, Dragons Stand Together provides education, resources, and support for the campus and surrounding community. A central feature of the initiative is a pledge program, which encourages athletes to sign a prominently placed wall inscribed with the following words: “By signing the wall, I acknowledge injustice, unfairness, and inequality. I commit to do…everything in my power to stop it.” So far, the wall has been signed by MSUM’s dance, men’s and women’s basketball, football, swimming and diving, soccer, and softball teams.
Former Mayor Jonathan Judd and I joined a group of student athletes in December to add our signatures to the wall. As he added his name, Judge Judd shared his pride in “the next generation of leaders” who are making “our city, our region, our country and world a better place.” In other words, Dragons Stand Together is definitely a win.