Black Student-Athlete Summit 2022 – Part 1.

a true inspiration of mine, Bobby Thompson

In April I received an email from a great friend and mentor, Bobby Thompson. The email stated: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to serve as one of Cal’s representatives who will participate in the 2022 Black Student-Athlete Summit” (BSAS). I heard of this event during my first year at Cal and I immediately knew that it was an opportunity I wanted to be a part of. At first, the only emotion I held was excitement, but it was shortly followed by a lot of insecurity and fear; “Can I?” “What will others think?” “Do I belong?” “I don’t want to cause any negative emotions and/or reactions”…

This year, the BSAS took place in Houston, Texas – my first time in the state of Texas. I was extremely excited about the trip, the new place, but even more so about the summit with the purpose of increasing awareness, empowering the black student-athlete body, and amplifying their voices. We left on Sunday, the same day that my Cal t&f team left the West Regionals championships, an annual event that is a great achievement and expected goal for track athletes to attend. I had written this goal down, knowing in the back of my mind that it felt very external to me, as this past year has been so much more than athletics or being an athlete, but rather being a human and tending to my human needs. But I digress…

Leaving the Bay at 5 AM.

Sunday. 

The first day (5/22/22). We landed on Sunday, settled into our hotel, and had a great team dinner. We completed the day by attending an evening event, “Welcome Reception” hosted by the BSAS. A place to see and get to know new faces. It felt like the first day of school, not knowing anyone, thinking about who you possibly can go over and talk with.

Monday.

The second day (5/23/22). Jet-lagged but even more grateful, I put on a “business casual” outfit, and packed my bag with notebooks, pens, and snacks, before we left the hotel to catch the shuttle to Rice University, where our summit was held. I truly did not know what to expect, what emotions would be awakened, and what lessons would be encountered. 

8.30 AM: “2022 BSA Welcome” w/ no other than the BSA present, Ryan Sutton, the Co-Chair of BSA, Darren Kelley, and the Great, JP Abercrombie, as the host of Operations. They set the tone for the event through empowering and professional segments, and my note-taking began. BSAS was introduced as “a space of rejuvenation.” As student-athletes (SA), we were given four key suggestions for this event: 1) Branch out, 2) Confidently introduce yourself, 3) Be engaged and ask questions, and 4) Take the information with you. To the professionals, the suggestions were as follows: 1) Make yourself available to SA, 2) Be open to partnerships, 3) Use information to pose new information, and 4) Enforce athletes/staff who are not here. 

9-9.30 AM: Dr. Leonard Moore, who I gained great respect for, held his presentation; “Impact. Period.” My eyes and ears were locked in from the very beginning, where quotes that stood out were “never put culture on a pedestal” and “I got a Ph.D. in my sleep.” He provided five truths: 1) Find something to be impactful about, and in doing so be motivated about what God has called you to do. 2) Have a vision, 3) Execute 4) Ignore haters – no matter how much they sting, and lastly, and 5) Speaking the truth hurts. 

Dr. Moore highlighted the importance of chasing impact, as talent will not mean anything. He spoke specifically about the black athlete body and how it IS the centerpiece of the entire enterprise, where we must TESTIFY and acknowledge what is wanted in INTEGRITY. Lastly, Dr. Moore explained the structure of the summit, the first day is focused on ISSUES, the next day on SOLUTIONS, and the last day on NEW OPPORTUNITIES.  

9.30 AM: “Just Say No: Painkillers, Opioids, and Addiction” by Marcus Amos was an extremely informative session, speaking to the importance of acquiring information from people and not magazines. He began by presenting the recent deaths by suicides in the intercollegiate world. 

Mr. Amos spoke to the severe issue of institutions’ prioritization, where they value what they view as an interest rather than what is actually needed. He shined a light on PDMP as a program all intercollegiate departments can invest in where athletes’ drug intake is tracked, the documentary “Locker room addition” was referenced (a video on my to-watch list), and lastly, I appreciated how he worded our responsibility to “shop listen to doctors.” It is essential to care for the self-care of all athletes, and as athletes to always be mindful of who you are. Mr. Amos’ presentation stood out to me because of my own experience with college athletics and medical subscriptions…

As a student-athlete, I was told that antidepressants were my only solution to my life-challenging situation, which involved tremendous sadness and depression caused by mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual stress. Stress was caused by being over 5,169 miles away from home away from family when my sibling (and best friend) was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. Stress that was caused by trying to overcome and come back from a stress reaction that was supposed to take 5 weeks to heal, but that would take 10months. Stress caused by personal health challenges, an unstable living situation, lack of support from staff, and continuously chasing athletic achievements (as that was what I had told myself was what I could achieve), … I tried telling the doctor that this was something I did not need to do, due to personal unpleasant experiences when taking medication, overdosing in the family, and I was even able to put up an intentional smile when explaining that I had begun seeing a therapist. I was met with the following arguments: a therapist was not enough, that they had put several of my teammates on it, that the doctor themselves are on it and that these pills saved (continues to save) their life, and that they would help me sleep and even perform better…after being in this room, and told this over and over again, for more or less than an hour, I went out thinking that I might be wrong in my thought process…I mean, they were the doctor….my westernized mindset has been taught to listen to these doctors, luckily I have had a tremendous support system outside the inter-collegiate walls, who simply have saved me. 

10 AM: “The Great Migration: Why Black People Are Leaving College Athletics” by Jerome Robinson, Amber Gregg, and Darren Kelly. Highlighting the importance of keeping everyone in the system ACCOUNTABLE. I could relate when Mr. Robson shared how an incident caused him to lose respect for someone, and the struggle to recover. They dived into the question of “Being in the system of college athletics at what cost?” Contrasting the quality of life to the fact that college sports can be very lucrative. To those factors, I wanted to add: loss of sense of self, body above the mind-body-soul-emotion connection, holistic well-being, mental and physical health, and sense of loneliness. Lastly, they gave us three tips if and/or when leaving/entering/navigating the athletic system: 1) Do your homework, 2) Ask questions (ex: past employees/players who have left), and 3) Don’t be afraid. 

11 AM: “The Black Market of college basketball. A Conversation” w/ Coach Emanuel Richardson and Dr. Moore. Coach Richardson shared his story, from the moment the FBI woke him up at 4 am. For his entire career, Coach Richardson has been an assistant coach and he states “at one point, you believe that you can’t do better.” I can relate. In a system where we let everyone value us, Coach Richardson shared how college athletics has become modern-day slavery, and because of this, it is so essential to take 100 % RESPONSIBILITY. As student-athletes, but more importantly humans, we MUST take RESPONSIBILITY and keep ourselves and each other ACCOUNTABLE, as Coach Richardson said;  “no boss, we co-workers.” It is all about adding to someone with what you have to give.

11.30 AM: “Town Hall Discussion: Has Hip-hop Failed Black America?” w/ Dee-1. In this segment, Dee-1 dived into our contemporary music that glorifies ignorance and bad culture, highlighting the importance of change, as we have to control the culture and cancel Hip-Hop culture. One of his greatest challenges is being popular AND meaningful because the music that is meaningful is almost never the music that becomes popular. Dee-1 presented his newest album, Finding Balance, inspired by his own journey of finding balance, from experiencing being successful but not balanced, and the importance of changing the negative to something positive. As our mind is just like a muscle that needs to be trained, it is vital that student-athletes are given the time, space, and resources to build detrimental life tools for a harmonic life. I appreciated how Dee-1 spoke about the hardest thing about staying balanced entailed confronting/discharging accountability from others. He also touched on morals, values, and principles, speaking to the toxicity of the college athletics system, calling out how we may not be dead but sick, and, therefore, there is a need to HEAL each other. To transform through transparency. The importance of having music that is actually healing. The significance of having a passion for what you do, where you CHASE IMPACT and let the income follow. To seek thrivers and not survivors, and being where the grace is. Dee-1’s segment reminded me of Pitbull’s quote; “There’s no success without failure and no winning without losing.” 

After a long lunch break, Devin Walker had the S-A complete several interactive activities, where we were to go to the right side of the wall if we agreed or the left side of the room if we disagrees with statements… 

  1. Black athletes are role models and should behave accordingly
  2. Student-athletes in revenue-producing sports should get paid, while non-revenue producing shall not 
  3. Players with off-field pursuits are less dedicated to their teammates and sport
  4. The recent focus on mental health in athletics is making people soft 
  5. Women’s sports don’t get as much air-time because they are less exciting than men’s sports 

And the room got quickly heated… 

Last activity of the day. This activity was followed by different group discussions, depending on your area of interest and I went to the breakout room that aligned with my passion: mental health. That. Was. An. Important. Discussion. Yet, throughout the discussion there were so many thoughts going through my mind, so much I wanted to share…but I was stopped by the feeling of fear, imposter syndrome, and insecurity about my right to be in this space… with thoughts of the color of my skin not being enough……..as I am typing this tears run along my cheek…thinking about my thoughts during this setting; “what would people in the room think if I spoke up?” “who does she think she is?” “Why is she here” “She is not black”…all comments that I have heard before, all comments I fear hearing again, all of which still hurt to this day…when in actuality, all I wanted was to share my similar story to those who shared, tell them that they are not alone, and to contribute to the discussion…

When people ask me what I am, I always explain how my mom is white and my dad is black, how my mother is Norwegian and my father is Puerto Rican. Gowing up in Norway I was the darker girl, but I was never having to identify my race/ethnicity on school sheets of paper as my peers explain having to do already in middle school. Growing up I always explained how I simply was half/half. Yet, it was not until being in the US that this answer was not enough, and to be told by teammates that I am not black, to me, is not about the color of my skin, but my ancestral lineage that I so proudly carry. I know that I have not had the black experience, but I also know that I have lived alongside my father and his family, all of which are a part of me. I know that my father has been spit at in Norway, and I know how it is for him to walk inside a store or at an airport…which has created an even stronger willingness for me to learn, value, and cherish my Puerto Rican heritage. 

I want to share a short story about this feeling of imposter syndrome, as I was asked to record a video for the Pac-12s’ recognition of Black History Month. I felt honored, but the feeling of it being “right” to accept was strongly present. That same evening I texted Bobby to see if we could call and we talked that same evening. I explained my emotions and he listened, as the good listener that he is. He then spoke about the one-drop rule and shared his own story, before asking me what book he had referred me to read and that I had just completed. I answered: Shoe Dog. Bobby asked who wrote it. I answered Phil Knights. Bobby asked what this man is famous for. I answered: the Founder of Nike. Bobby asked: and what is Nike’s slogan? I answered: Just Do It. Bobby said: and that is what I am going to tell you… And I did. I still smile thinking about this impactful conversation. In the video, I spoke on the behalf of my ancestor, friends and family, our future generations, and lastly, individuals who might feel similar emotions as I have in my position.

On the evening of our first day in Texas, the BSAS held another evening reception where Bobby Thompson, received a VERY WELL DESERVED award: the 2022 Black Student-Athlete Summit Innovator of the Year Recognition… (Mark his name)…

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for me, my peers, and the community around you, Bobby!!!

Day 2 of the Black Student-Athlete Summit coming soon….

Until next,

Mina Marie Anglero ❤️

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2 Comments

  1. Camilla Anglero

    I am so proud of you, Mina.
    Well written, wise and deeply sincere thoughts and recollections.

  2. Thomas Anglero

    Awesome blog post and excellent explanations of difficult personal stories. I’m very proud of you!

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