Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale addressed the program’s steps in improving racial inclusion in a Wednesday Big 12 teleconference Wednesday after former Sooner Gioya Carter criticized Coale and OU women’s basketball leadership when it comes to the topic back in August. Other alumni joined in as well.
“I wish I knew what it felt like to have a head coach at OU like this,” Carter tweeted on Aug. 28, after head coach Lincoln Riley led a Unity March in the South Oval, “but instead my 4yrs there was filled with comments like. ‘You guys act like it happened to you. If y’alls long braids hits one of my players in the face’ as if the ppl in braids weren’t her players.”
Gioya played for Coale from 2013-17.
I wish I knew what it felt like to have a head coach at OU like this but instead my 4yrs there was filled with comments like. “You guys act like it happened to you.” “If y’alls long braids hits one of my players in the face” as if the ppl in braids weren’t her players. https://t.co/nU3VTVI2Q3
— Gioya Carter (@GioyaCarter25) August 28, 2020
The OU Athletics Department released a statement from Coale and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione on Aug. 30. On Wednesday, around two months later and just a week before OU’s season opener, Coale responded to how the program has handled the topic.
“I think every day and every situation gives an opportunity for learning, for improvement,” Coale said, “and gaining information, and that’s what we’ve done and continue to strive to be in all ways for all kids and to provide an environment that is rich and (has) opportunities to learn. … We’ll continue to do that.
“As a program, what we strive to do is create an environment that is healthy and instructional for all. And when we have missed that point, we want to go back and address that and try to do that better and try to learn from that as we move forward. … It’s a continual learning environment over time. And I think all of us — if we look realistically at ourselves — have not been anti-racist enough.”
Student-athletes all over the country have taken to public protests and social media to support the nation-wide Black Lives Matter movement spurned by American police brutality towards African Americans. Former volleyball player and now-guard for Coale’s OU squad Ashlynn Dunbar has been a vocal leader on campus for speaking out against racial injustice.
“It is the continual evolution of seeing every individual player for who they are,” Coale said, “and the circumstances they come from and the culture that is so important to them and celebrating that and wrapping our arms around them and creating an environment that is inclusive for all. That is the goal.”
Caleb McCourry is the assistant sports editor at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. He’s covered football, basketball and volleyball.
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