• Terrika Foster-Brasby

Delaware Women's Basketball Team Turns Letter Into Law and Personifies Student Leadership



(Photo courtesy of Delaware WBB)


The University of Delaware women’s basketball team isn’t just talking about it, they’re being about it.


With the country on edge in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which stirred a number of protest across the country, several players on the team came together to draft a letter that began with plans to reach the Mayor’s desk and ended with Governor John Carney signing Executive Order #41, which bans the use of chokeholds by State of Delaware law enforcement agencies, increases community engagement, requires additional de-escalation and implicit bias training, and increases the availability of crisis intervention services for law enforcement officers.


Junior guard Paris McBride offered the idea to write the letter that would eventually lead to state legislation after being inspired by a friend to not sit idly by and miss an opportunity to join a social movement. She and her teammates crafted a letter that was initially meant to be sent to various mayors across the state calling for bans on chokeholds, psychological evaluations on officers (especially those with military backgrounds), increased funding for body cams and other provisions to minimize the use of excessive force during arrests and interactions with Black citizens.


“A friend of mine who plays women’s basketball at Boston College texted me. She said ‘get your teammates to rally behind you and write a letter to the mayor. That’s what me and my teammates are doing in Massachusetts.’ and I was like, that’s a great idea,” McBride tells LaChina Robinson on the espnW Around the Rim podcast. “I texted a couple of my teammates to get their ideas, we made a Google doc to introduce it to the team and everyone jumped on board.“


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Head Coach Natasha Adair sensed the frustration in her team from the moment the civil unrest began. Battling her own discontent and fear, she felt that it was important to provide them the support they needed.


“I’m going through a range of emotions myself. As a Black mother with a Black son that’s 22-years old and a Black daughter who’s 14-years old, I understood because I had my own emotions that I had to manage. So when I got on the Zoom call with the team, I asked them two questions: how are you feeling? What do you need from us [coaches] and from each other.”

“I’m going through a range of emotions myself. As a Black mother with a Black son that’s 22-years old and a Black daughter who’s 14-years old, I understood because I had my own emotions that I had to manage. So when I got on the Zoom call with the team, I asked them two questions: how are you feeling? What do you need from us [coaches] and from each other.”


Neither McBride nor Adair envisioned the impact that call or that letter would eventually have on the community. Adair adds, “No one on this team is from the state of Delaware. Yet, all of them are taking ownership in where their feet are planted to make change.”


Once the letter was received by Adair, it was forwarded on to Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Services Chrissi Rawak and Gino Gradkowski, the Assistant Director for Student Services Leadership, with the task of ensuring the letter got in front of the university’s government and community relations team.


“Within a matter of days, we were in front of the Attorney General,” Adair continues. “This is one of the most powerful positions in the state. And then the Governor. With all that’s going on, with social justice reform and COVID, for him to take time, and he wasn’t rushed on the call. Both the leaders wanted to know what their student leaders needed from them and how they could help.”


The very next day, on June 25th, the executive order was signed. McBride says this process has motivated her to continue learning more about the legislative process, as well as to keep fighting to effect positive change.


“Everyone comes from different walks of life and it’s important to keep having these conversations in order to make a difference and understand how we can make change in our communities.”


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