Trinity’s Athletes of Color Coalition TACKLING Racial Injustice Article By Kinnard Hughes and Photos by Mia Conte

After a host of discussions with other student-athletes across the NESCAC, the Athletes of Color Coalition found its place at Trinity. Since its inception in 2019, the Athletes of Color Coalition, in alliance with members of the athletic administration, aims to build a safe, and more diverse environment for student-athletes of color at Trinity. Programming and services are developed with the intention of implementing a system that establishes a social network amongst athletes of color, promotes solidarity, and encourages discourse. After hosting a Super Bowl watch party, Community Conversations event and more, Dakota Foster ‘21, Hareena Johnson ‘22, Makayla Boucher ‘23 and others have made significant strides toward creating a sense of community for student athletes of color and allies on campus.
Dakota Foster'21

Dakota Foster ’21, a wide receiver on the varsity football team and President of the Athletes of Color Coalition, found a dire need to implement this organization on campus. As co-founder of the organization, alongside Charles Barsella ’21, Kinnard Hughes ’22, Hareena Johnson ’22 and Peace Kabari ’20, Foster founded the Athletes of Color Coalition in an effort to address his concerns as a student-athlete of color.

Photo by Mia Conte'22

As Vice President of the IMANI Black Student Union and as a member of the football team, Foster began to fathom how student-athletes of color do not have the sufficient resources on campus to thrive or even a safe space to unify as one. To address this disparity, the Athletes of Color Coalition was born. Despite COVID-19 limitations and other challenges that the Athletes of Color Coalition faced in its first full year, Foster has made great progress toward achieving the goals of the organization.

Photo by Mia Conte'22
“Support from the student-athlete community, allies, and the athletic department at Trinity really helped propel our organization,” Foster said. “More specifically, Coach Denver Williams, my position coach and faculty liaison for the organization, has been a tremendous resource for me. Not only has he been a great resource, but as a coach of color, he has been able to develop strong relationships with others as well,” Foster added. When asked about different initiatives and events to come, Foster said that he would like to see more partnerships with existing on campus organizations, coupled with more community service engagement. “Although COVID will hinder a lot of our plans we set forth initially, we will continue to think of more creative ways to engage,” Foster added.
Hareena Johnson'22

Hareena Johnson ’22, an outside hitter for the varsity volleyball team and returning E-board member for the Athletes of Color Coalition, also found motivation to jumpstart this organization.

Photo by Mia Conte'22
“As the only Black woman on my team, ACC is really important for me because it gives me a safe space to talk amongst those who share similar experiences and challenges as me. Also, I want to ensure that student-athletes of color who come after me have a space where they can build a community around people that share similar interests and backgrounds,” Johnson said.

In reference to how the Athletes of Color Coalition can further shape the campus community, Johnson eyes the Athletes of Color Coalition as an engine that has to bridge the gap between athletes of color and students of color on campus.

Photo by Mia Conte'22
“I think events such as Community Conversations are key in achieving our goals. Here, as were able to bring athletes of color and students of color together in the same space to talk about common misconceptions and the overall campus climate, this was pivotal in enhancing the campus community and bridging the gap between these groups,” Johnson stated.

From here, the Athletes of Color Coalition was not only able to gain support from the campus community, but they also began to receive a lot more engagement from allies and even those who are non-athletes. Lastly, when asked how others outside of the organization can get involved, Johnson encouraged students, athletes and others around campus to tune in to ACC’s social media platforms.

Photo by Mia Conte'22
“As social media chair, I encourage everyone who would like to become more involved to visit our website and Instagram profile as we continue to promote activities, events and opportunities on our platforms,” Johnson concluded.
Makayla Boucher'23

Makayla Boucher ’23, one of the newest members of the Athletes of Color Coalition, was drawn to the organization by her own experiences and through the leadership of Johnson and Foster.

“As one of two athletes of color on the softball team, I wanted to seek ways in which I could connect with and support other athletes across campus. Also, through the initiatives and leadership that I saw in my first year, I knew that this was an organization that I could stand in solidarity with,” Boucher said.
Photo by Mia Conte'22

Boucher credits the Athletes of Color Coalition with helping her network with other student-athletes of color across campus, coupled with giving her a voice to speak on racial and societal injustices outside of her team. In the future as a member of the ACC, Boucher would like to use her status as an Asian-American to shine a brighter light on challenges faced by the Asian-American student-athlete community at Trinity.

Photos by Mia Conte'22

Despite the challenges that the Athletes of Color Coalition faced as a new student organization, Foster, Johnson, Boucher and others are committed and eager to tackle all challenges head on. Given that intercollegiate fall competition are canceled this year, the Athletes of Color Coalition is making targeted efforts to engage with first year student-athletes of color, transfer athletes and the greater campus community during this truly unprecedented time. If you would like to connect with the Athletes of Color Coalition, please email Trinity-Athletes-Color@trincoll.edu, visit their website, or engage via Instagram @trinitycollegeacc.