On Wednesday, January 11, the Loyola Academy school community gathered for an assembly in the West Gym to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a presentation on The Loyola Project, a documentary film that highlights the 1963 Loyola University men’s basketball NCAA champion team. Woven together with archival footage and modern day interviews, this documentary tells the inspiring story, often called the greatest untold story in college basketball, of the team’s journey to victory and honors their important legacy of breaking racial barriers and ushering in the beginning of modern basketball.
Joining our students for an exclusive presentation and Q&A session were the following panelists: Patrick Creadon
, the film’s director; Dr. Nona Martin Storr
, nationally renowned expert and professor at George Mason University; Dr. Gary Sailes
, associate professor emeritus at Indiana University and a sports industry consultant; and Chuck Wood
, member of the famed 1963 team. Guests were introduced by Koffi Abini ’23
, manager of Loyola’s varsity boys’ basketball team.
At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Creadon asked students to think about the idea of being marginalized. “Examining why some people are marginalized compared to other people is at the heart of this story,” he explained.
Mr. Wood, a former national champion, recalled a time when the team, composed of both Black and White players, was refused dinner at a restaurant in Virginia. “We didn’t talk about social issues back then. We accepted what was given to us,” he said and encouraged Ramblers to do the opposite. “Talk to your parents and your grandparents about what they experienced and what they remember.”
Dr. Sailes, who has published extensively on the topic of sports diversity, explained that marginalization affects us all: “The only way to eradicate it is to recognize that it hurts all of us. Is it ever going away? It will be a challenge. I’m hoping you guys are racial leaders and gatekeepers to shape the culture and racial landscape of our country.”
Providing some additional context about the plight faced by the 1963 players, Dr. Martin Storr, whose masters thesis covers the 1963 basketball season and its role in changing the landscape of college basketball, asked students to consider the adversity the players faced -- in addition to the pressures of being students-athletes, they faced the additional pressure of activism.
After the presentation, a small group of students, which included the captains from the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams, had the opportunity to meet the presenters.
“As a Catholic, Jesuit community we are called to continue to work for racial and economic justice and to honor those who have been heroes in the civil rights movement,” says Sarah Bennett
, director of diversity, equity & inclusion. “We were thrilled to have members of the team and the filmmakers present to share their story and to inspire each of us to create a more just and equitable society.”
All members of the Loyola community are invited to watch the film together on Sunday, January 22, in the Performing Arts Center at 1:00 p.m.
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