By Danny Priest
There’s no doubting that this semester at Springfield College looks and feels much different than any other semester in the school’s 135-year history.
The lack of sports presented a unique challenge for the school’s athletic department: finding ways to continue posting content with no teams playing.
The result has been the creation of a series that has the potential to be more impactful than any game played between the lines of Blake Arena, Stagg Field or any other sporting venue on campus.
The series is called ‘My Story, My Truth’ and it debuted on the Springfield College athletics Instagram page (@springfieldathletics) on Sept. 12.
The five-minute video featured Adaeze Alaeze-Dinma talking about her experiences as a Black woman and former student-athlete. Alaeze-Dinma primarily focused on the importance of people using their voices and supporting those around them in their community.
Alaeze-Dinma, who goes by Daisy, was named the Coordinator of Student-Athlete Leadership Development and Sports Communication Assistant over the summer. The new series was an idea that she brought with her to Alden Street this July.
“I just thought it would be important, even at the collegiate level, for our-student athletes to just have a say,” she said of starting the series. “More than an athlete, we’re people, we’re humans, we have feelings, we’re just like the next person. I just felt as though it would be a great time for them to help them find their voice and then help enhance their voice in the community.”
Alaeze-Dinma was a four-year basketball standout at Virginia Commonwealth University, played basketball professionally in Spain, and was a member of the Nigerian women’s basketball team.
She knows first-hand what the life of a Black student-athlete is like and how important it is for individuals to be comfortable sharing their stories.
With the current heightened awareness in the country regarding social justice and equality, now is the perfect time for the ‘My Story, My Truth’ series to launch at Springfield.
“They (Black student-athletes) need more of a voice, and all of these things that are being done and said for them, let’s actually hear what they want and what they’re experiencing and how they feel,” Alaeze-Dinma said.
While the student-athletes are taking a big step by being comfortable enough to share their stories, it’s also on the viewers to understand and process the truths that are being shared.
“I just encourage people to continue to be open-minded and if you really do care about people, you’ll care about their stories,” Alaeze-Dinma said. “It’s not just about being sympathetic to the fact that ‘wow, I hate the fact that you’re going through this,’ but just I feel like people who are open minded have the ability to be empathetic.
“When you have the ability to be empathetic to a situation, or to a group, or to someone with something that they are going through, you are then allowing yourself to not only believe their truth and their experience, but you as best as you possibly can put yourself in their shoes or their position.”
Among the thousands of Division III programs across the country, Springfield is one of the few who are giving their black student-athletes a platform to share their lived experiences — the only one to be doing a project like this.
“We’ve certainly framed this out similar to what Clemson has done. Clemson did a series a couple of months ago called ‘Voices,’ that ours has a very similar look and feel to,” said Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Brian Magoffin.
“Little different reach than Clemson does, but the stories are just as powerful and matter just as much if you’re playing on national television on a Saturday night or if you’re competing in front of your classmates in Blake Arena’,” he added.
The plan for the series is to continue posting videos weekly, so long as Black student-athletes are willing to keep sharing their truths. Thus far, the response has been exceedingly positive.
As for the viewers, the important aspect to remember is these videos are not about hardships. They are about understanding the struggles of a person in the community and supporting them for rising above it.
“I guess that all I can say is just continue to be good people and be empathetic towards people,” Alaeze-Dinma said. “Not sympathetic, but empathetic because we don’t need pity, but we just want your understanding.”
The series can be viewed on both Instagram (@springfieldathletics) and on the Springfield College YouTube page and episodes will be coming out weekly over the course of the semester.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics