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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Adams coalition creates space for minority student-athletes

The+coalition+aims+to+give+student-athletes+the+opportunity+to+feel+loved%2C+connected+and+supported.+PHOTOS+COURTESY+OF+SJU+ATHLETICS
The coalition aims to give student-athletes the opportunity to feel loved, connected and supported. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SJU ATHLETICS

On Feb. 9, the St. Joe’s Department of Athletics announced the formation of the
Adams Minority Student-Athlete Coalition.

The Coalition is a group of student-athletes that meets in-person every two weeks to discuss issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion at St. Joe’s. It is named after Dick Adams ’59, one of the first
Black student-athletes at the university and a three-year letterwinner for the men’s cross country and track and field teams.

According to junior Olivia Wojtowicz, a middle distance runner on the women’s track and field team and an executive board member for the Coalition, its goal is for historically marginalized minority student-athletes to feel supported and seen at St. Joe’s because their experiences are not always
openly discussed.

“It’s important to create spaces where minority athletes can openly be themselves,” Wojtowicz said. We have things like [the Center for Inclusion and Diversity and
Black Student Union], but it’s been a very long time since we had something specifically geared towards athletics.”

Men’s soccer senior midfielder and executive board member, Alex Hood, said the conversations sparked by the Coalition will provide an awareness that many minority student-athletes face similar struggles.

John Tiller ’64 was the first Black basketball player at St. Joe’s.

“I feel like a lot of minority-student-athletes feel isolated on their teams, especially in predominantly white sports,” Hood said. “I think knowing that other people with the same logo on their chest are facing the same kind of issues helps you understand that this is a bigger issue than me or my team.”

Erick Woods, director of student-athlete development, who helped to form the Coalition, said he hopes the group of student-athletes has an effect that extends beyond the scope of athletics.

“I’m kind of the facilitator, just showing them that this can be done,” Woods said. “My hope is that they take it and run with it. But my main goal is to have them do things that will impact the university as a whole and not just our Coalition as a group.”

Woods also said that one of his main motivations for starting the Coalition was to help minority student-athletes understand the impact of those who came before them.

“How many [student-athletes] knew who Dick Adams was? How many African-Americans on the basketball team know who John Tiller was?” Woods said.

“Once they understand their history, they understand their place in history. I think it’s very important that they know their history so that they can be intentional about building their own legacy when they’re here.”

Adams was also a member of the Air Force R.O.T.C and Moors Psychological Society during his time at the university.

Adams’ presence at St. Joe’s alone makes him a “trailblazer,” according to Wojtowicz.

“I feel like his presence and determination to be in that space is enough,” Wojtowicz said. “Him being Black was a statement in itself.”

As Adams paved the way for minority student-athletes after him, the Coalition named in his honor hopes to forge an even clearer trail for student-athletes who will attend St. Joe’s in the future. Hood said that one way the group aims to do that is to create a sense of community for minority student-athletes right when they arrive on campus.

“For those first two weeks, you really only know the people on your team,” Hood said. “You might be in Hagan Arena and pass a few people and give them a nod, but you can’t really put a name, a story or anything other than just a face to a person.

I think creating a community amongst minority student-athletes, and support between teams is something that I hope a lot of people get out of this.”

The first Black student-athlete at St. Joe’s, according to Woods, is Stan Jones ’53. Jones was a member of the cross country program.

In addition to competing on the track, Adams also competed as a long jumper.
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