I’m crying and it’s hard to explain why.
Everyone is shocked at the upset of Loyola University Chicago.
For those of you who don’t know, the Loyola team that won in 1963 broke major barriers. A few former players came to tell their stories while I was still an athlete at Loyola. They explained that, at the time, no more than 2 black men could play on the court at the time. Loyola, however, had 4 black men on the court. In order to get to the championship game being played down south, this group of men had to sneak out in the middle of the night, hide under blankets and gear in the car, and cross into the most hostile territory black men could face.
In spite of it all, Loyola men’s basketball left a mark on the future of black men in sports.
Today, Loyola basketball has illuminated the age-old love story when an underdog team made it to the final four.
Of course, as a Loyola alumn, I’m proud of them. Athletes love what they do. They put it all on the field. They bleed. They grind. They feel defeated. They feel uplifted. They work together. They bond. They live the game.
Today, Loyola showed the world that every athlete is good enough to compete. It doesn’t matter the name you wear on your jersey or the reputation that precedes you. A team that puts the work in can do anything.
So, it’s hard to explain why I’m crying. Perhaps it’s because I’m proud today to be a Loyola alumn. I proud that people all over the country will hear the name Loyola and respect it. I’m proud that I walked the same path as those men even if I didn’t get the glory. I’m proud that athletes like myself and all the athletes that attend and have attended the underdog schools feel like their career meant something. I’m crying, because I can finally say, “I played Division I softball at Loyola,” and people can finally understand what that means.