The Loveland and Walnut Hills high school girls basketball teams decided they’d had enough of racial division and wanted to take a stand for unity.
At Walnut Hills’ senior night Feb. 7, the girls from both teams locked arms or held hands during the National Anthem. Their actions are a response to recent reports that portions of a student section yelled racially offensive terms at a rival basketball team’s players and staff Friday, Feb. 2.
Loveland head coach Darnell Parker said he considers Walnut Hills coach Adam Lazar a great competitor on the court, but his friend off of it.
“Both of us are in unique situations in that we are men coaching girls basketball, but also the fact that he is a white male coaching a team with predominately black players, and on the flip side, I am a black male coaching a team with predominately white players,” he said. “That in itself I commend both the Walnut and Loveland administrations, community members and players for seeing well beyond gender and race while choosing their coaches.”
Parker approached Lazar to discuss the best way to show unity without being a disruption.
“After kicking around a few ideas, we decided that we were going to honor our country by standing in unity as one. Coach Lazar and I left yesterday’s game extremely proud of our kids! You can’t solve problems with division. You solve problems by coming together and uniting.”
Lazar said he and Parker, whom Lazar considers a tremendous leader and man, decided they had a chance to make a positive statement.
“Both of our programs are diverse, the players and the coaching staff, so really felt it was a great opportunity to showcase the greatness in that,” he said. “This was also about making a statement. The city is better than this, our kids are better than this.”
He said they wanted to reinforce the notion the city is better than this.
“We are going to act, and we are going to make sure our girls know that you stick up for what is right in life, no matter what,” he said. “Loveland and Walnut are great rivals, and when we get on the floor together, we really compete, but Coach Parker is a close friend and off the floor. Our girls are professional and classy, and respect each other in the spirit of competition. That is what it is all about.”
“I believe everyone should work together to make sure that everyone feels accepted and appreciated,” she said. “We used our athletic platform to help this, as we should in anyway that we can.”