On Sept. 2, Drake Athletics announced the formation of a new initiative titled “All One”. The group is made up of Drake University coaches, staff and students that meet and discuss topics that negatively affect athletics.
According to the initiative’s Instagram page, All One’s vision statement is “To actively dismantle systems within our athletic department that oppress and limit Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQ+, differently abled and marginalized persons.”
Jennie Baranczyk, head women’s basketball coach, said that the intent of the initiative is to establish an environment for self-directed learning and discussion.
“We need to have tough conversations about racism and other issues because we feel our jobs as coaches are to be educators as well,” Baranczyk said. “It’s not always our job to be educated, but to educate ourselves.”
One of All One’s values is “All in This Together.” The initiatives mission areas include listen, educate, engage, lift awareness, empower and inspire change.
Katie Walker is the assistant coach of the Drake volleyball team and has been involved with the initiative since June.
“To me, the most important part is helping the players become better people on the court and off the court,” Walker said. “I hope that we can educate the girls on topics that will allow them to be the best nurse, teacher, businesswoman or whatever it may be so that they’re creating an equal and fair environment for their coworkers and the people they work under or above.”
There are approximately 22 student athletes and 16 faculty members across various teams that make up the group, but those numbers are expected to grow.
Olivia Bruce is on the women’s soccer team and has taken a leadership role in helping come up with discussion and social media ideas for the group.
“As a woman who is biracial and identifies as black, I felt that it was my personal role to speak up and share my experiences, which started with my own team. As much as I wanted to make a difference and speak out to the Drake community, I knew that it first had to start within my own team,” Bruce said. “We are now taking the time to educate ourselves on a weekly basis as a group. It has not been easy, but it is necessary, and the group members within All One have committed to starting these challenging conversations within their own teams as well to make all student athletes feel heard on our campus.”
The “All One” initative aims to increase awareness of prejudices, reduce the barriers of racial discrimination and inequality and create empathy through conversations and education. It also plans to advise student athletes and staff about ways they can efficiently and effectively use their platform to educate, promote awareness and effect change. The hope is that the department will use those tools to establish additional programs and opportunities to address the vulnerabilities faced by marginalized communities.
The current focus of “All One” is the upcoming election. The initiative seeks to have 100 percent voter registration for all eligible student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff, as well as to make Nov. 3 an off-day for student athletes and continue voter education by establishing and training sports team voting captains.