In Their Shoes

May 11, 2017

Jim Kasik is the Athletic Director at Schuyler (Neb.) Central High School and a longtime resident. He has seen its population change over the years and believes that, "kids are kids regardless of their color, their language or their place of birth."

He is disturbed by the racism his student-athletes face on a daily basis and decided to write a column in the local newspaper, the Schuyler Sun, to give others a sense of what it's like to walk a mile in their shoes. 

"They are called racist names; they are spit on by opponents and told to go back home or wait until Trump builds the wall," writes Kasik. "They see other student bodies bring dozens of Trump signs to our games and watch their administration do nothing and say this is just freedom of speech. They see other opponents specifically target our players to intentionally take them out of the game and in some cases the officials look the other way while this happens. When a locker room has been left a mess and unflattering comments are written on the board we are the first team to be accused of this, and when it is found that it was another team that is 95 percent white our kids get no apology."

The district’s population is about 80 percent Hispanic and has students from 27 countries. He relays that parents in the stands hear the following comments on a regular basis:

“Yeah, we are playing a bunch of Mexicans, it should be an easy game.”

“Those kids can’t even speak English.”

“Wait until Trump sends them all home.”

Kasik also explains the additional barriers they face. 

“Our coaches have a team that in many cases does not have the experience, skill level or resources to compete with many of their opponents,” he writes. “Our kids do not go to summer camps, lift weights or work on skills in the offseason because their families do not have the resources to do this. Our coaches have to tell our kids to use good sportsmanship and not retaliate regardless of how they are treated.”

Rather than asking for an apology, Kasik says he is proud of his student-athletes. 

"Our kids do not want your pity, they do not want you to take it easy on us, they do not want any apologies," he writes. "All we want is for you to have a little perspective on what it is like to be a parent, coach and student in our district."

Kasik has received a lot of positive response for the column.

“I never thought when I wrote that short piece that so many people would take some positive things from it,” Kasik told US-92. “It’s been kind of overwhelming at times but the number of things that people have gone out of their [way] to say ... about our community and other communities I think is an indication there’s far more people with the right frame of mind out there.”



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