Coaches around the country have released statements in recent days in regards to racial injustice and police brutality, but Jeff Walz wanted his players involved.
The Louisville women’s basketball coach started by facetiming team captains Dana Evans and Kianna Smith. The team later had a discussion on a Zoom call to continue to address the issues.
Walz tweeted on May 30 on behalf of the captains the team, “We don’t think what’s going on right right. We can’t accept a world that isn’t safe for all. We stand with the black community. We will be getting back to campus soon, and we are committed to working together to better our Louisville community with empathy, compassion, and respect for all people. We plan to make a difference through our actions.”
The team wanted to share a message on social media that would show the community it cared about racial injustice. Walz and the players had discussions on how they want to help the community and ways to change the world.
“As a white man, he wanted to know the right things to say,” Smith said. “I think it was important that he got the perspective of black athletes. I thought it was important.”
Evans said Walz was genuine about the issues and it meant a lot to her that no one brought the idea of sharing a message to his attention.
“He wanted to make sure people knew we were willing to help,” Evans said. “It shows his character and how good of a person he is.”
The team doesn’t want the addressing of issues to end with a statement. Evans, who was the ACC Player of the Year in 2019-20, said Louisville plans to build relationships and follow up with actions in the community.
“We are trying to do what’s best to help the community and help the world,” Evans said.
Smith, who is from Moreno Valley, Calif. and transferred to Louisville from CAL, said her siblings went to protests in her home state. She said seeing her generation helping to impact change has been motivating.
“It has been frustrating as a black athlete, but it is also very motivating to see how many people are coming out supporting the cause,” Smith said. “I think it has been a long time coming. I’m excited for our generation and what we can do to impact our future.”
Smith sat out last season due to the NCAA transfer rules.