The aftermath of the death of George Floyd, has left many in the Mid-Michigan area questioning how to move forward. Waverly High School Boys Basketball Coach Rod Watts and East Lansing Girls Basketball Coach Rob Smith, were both horrified when first seeing the video of George Floyd being arrested.
“When I saw the video, I just wanted to do something so badly to help,” said Smith. “How could those guys not do something you know that were standing around?”
“When you are getting compliance you have to ease off the force,” said Watts. “I mean it’s simple, it’s really simple and he’s gotta be thinking to himself why…why…why? That’s the same question that I’m asking you’re probably asking the same question everybody across america is asking why? Why did you just get up off the guy’s neck?”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic still part of every day life, both coaches haven’t had the ability to be in close physical contact with their players. As the numbers of those diagnosed with COVID-19 continue to decrease daily, both coaches have plans of how to mentor their athletes moving forward.
“Specifically for our African American players, just to show them as much love and as much understanding as we possibly can,” said Smith. “In these difficult times and for them to know that we’re there for them and we’re here to do whatever it takes to help them navigate the difficulties that these kinds of situations bring about.”
“One of the things I will be conveying with them is that you know change is going to start with you, each individual,” said Watts. “When you watch these protests and you see police officers marching with the protesters that is a beautiful sight man, that is a beautiful sight and that just shows that people get it. So hopefully we can get all this stuff together and get the communities and police on the same page and…make this a better place.”
Both coaches made sure to reach out to their players through phone calls and messages but are eager for the return of the school year, to be there in person to help mentor their athletes through these troubling times.