August 13, 2020
Texas Christian women’s basketball players join End Racism event
Lauren Heard talks about the experience of painting a sidewalk mural
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On a sunny Thursday afternoon in Fort Worth, captain Lauren Heard and the Texas Christian Horned Frogs women’s basketball team gathered in front of Schollmaier Arena, home of the basketball programs, also known as the “Frog Alley.”
It was 2:30 PM when the team arrived at the Frog Alley to join the End Racism event led by Kelton Hollins, an offensive guard on the Horned Frogs football team. In the 90+ degree Texas heat, the team ignored the sweat and went on to paint and write their names on the sidewalk mural that says End in purple and Racism in black.
Hollins, who came up with and coordinated the event, reached out to all the teams, and instantly, Heard, her teammates, and the coaching staff were completely on-board to participate.
“There was no hesitation. My team, specifically, we’re always, like always, looking for some type of opportunity to get out into the community and show that we are in support of finding any social, any racial injustice events, anything like that…so we were all for it.”
Lauren Heard painting the sidewalk mural. Courtesy of TCU Athletics.
Abiding by social distancing protocols due to the pandemic, the team was unable to be there with the other teams but Hollins stayed the whole time.
“I really appreciate Kelton Hollins because he stayed…out there for all teams and he was looking at us paint, and, you know, cracking jokes like ‘oh you missed a spot’ and he would grab a paintbrush and help us. He stayed out there all day long. He didn’t care….he was outside the entire time and just thanked us for supporting him.”
The team was eager to get started and make their mark and impact on the community in a hands-on fashion like painting the sidewalk mural. Heard describes painting as therapeutic.
“The experience of painting and getting down on the ground and like signing like we were…we’re hot, we’re sweaty but like that didn’t phase us a bit because the why we were doing that was just so rewarding and just so beneficial to our hearts.”
Heard (middle) at the sidewalk mural event. Courtesy of TCU Athletics.
Ft. Worth is a red city in a red state where there are people who will disagree with the Black Lives Matter movement and any events in support but that didn’t discourage Heard or the team and furthered the impact in the community.
“…to be able to paint and sign our names on a whole alley like a sidewalk…smack dab in the middle of TCU, like if that’s not progressive, it’s not where we need to be but it’s, you know, you can only do so much right now…you want to continue these things to eventually get where we want to be…to see things like that in TCU, it was just super cool.”
Opponents to athletes participating in Black Lives Matter protests and events are often targeted on social media for not sticking to only their sport which can dehumanize the individual.
Heard recalled Kansas State guard Christianna Carr getting attacked on social media for posting a side-by-side picture on Twitter of her at a protest and her playing in a game.
Christianna Carr via her twitter.
“Carr marched and basically she’s like if you support me on the court please support me using my voice to want social justice. The DM’s she got, the comments she got, it really broke my heart. My heart broke for her because I was like wow…it’s just so sad. People love you on the court and then right on the flip side when you say something that you’re passionate about, they hate you so much so it was really unfortunate to and really sad to see.”
Like Carr and athletes around the world, Heard and the rest of the team don’t want to be seen as just a member of the Texas Christian women’s basketball team. They’d rather be seen as humans who after they take off their TCU jerseys, are still susceptible to stereotypes that they experience in their everyday lives.
For Heard personally, she acknowledges that she’s not exempt from racial stereotypes just because she’s an athlete.
“When I take my jersey off…like TCU off my chest and I’m just living my everyday life, I’m not exempt from anything. Any social injustice that’s been happening and the stereotypes.”
Fortunately for Heard and her teammates, she hasn’t seen anyone attack her or the TCU women’s basketball team’s social media account. No one has been there to tell them to “shut up and dribble” or to “stick to your sport.” Instead, there has been a plethora of support for the team for taking apart in the fight for social and racial justice.
Heard wants to continue the activism in whatever way possible whether it be going out to events like this one or showing their support on the court in ways WNBA players are doing now by wearing patches on their jerseys, and wearing a different last name on their jersey representing a Black woman who was murdered due to police brutality. Having a warm-up shirt with a message on them (which they have done in the past) or writing on their shoes.
The conversation has been ongoing between the team and coaches on what more they can do on and off the court to continue their impact. No decisions have been made yet but whatever is chosen will be sure to have a positive rippling effect on TCU, the Big 12, and even the NCAA.
The support from the coaching staff is evident. Instead of trying to censor the team, they are supportive of them using their social media platforms to voice their opinions and use their voice to speak out on social and racial injustices. They believe in what the team is fighting for and give them the freedom to vocalize their feelings which is something Heard is grateful for.
“Our coaches are just so great. They’re always looking for opportunities for us to use our voices. [They] let us use our platforms as far as twitter or Instagram as long as we’re being respectful and educated about what we’re saying.”
The biggest impact of the event for Heard was being able to feel the bond between all of the student-athletes to brace the heat and come together to paint the sidewalk mural grow immensely.
Despite not being able to physically be at “Frog Alley” as one collective TCU athletics family, Heard felt like they all became stronger and it felt rewarding to see the behind-the-scenes process of painting the mural grow into the full finished product.
“I think all of the student-athletes…we just came together and I felt like a stronger bond was created with that.”