The latest YouTube video featuring Branch Rickey isn’t a trailer for the upcoming “42” movie. And in addition to the famous 1904 Ohio Wesleyan University alumnus, the new video features OWU students Hannah Benzing, Nicole Lourette, and Anjuwon Spence, as well as Coach Seth McGuffin and President Rock Jones in starring roles.
The new video discusses the Branch Rickey Initiative launched by the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Presidents’ Council to promote the hiring and retention of coaches who actively support racial diversity in staffing. The initiative was honored last month with the inaugural Award for Diversity and Inclusion presented by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.
The NCAC video discusses the impact of the initiative with participating schools, including Ohio Wesleyan. In it, Jones tell the story of Rickey and how he vowed while an OWU student and baseball coach to help fight racial discrimination after watching a black athlete denied hotel lodging with his white teammates. Rickey changed history when, as president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, he signed Jackie Robinson in 1947, breaking baseball’s color barrier. (That story will be told in the movie “42” – Robinson’s jersey number – when it is released in April with Harrison Ford starring as Rickey.)
In the NCAC video, OWU student-athlete Anjuwon Spence ’13 discusses the impact of having coaches such as Seth McGuffin, assistant men’s and women’s track coach, as role models.
“It helps a great deal to see a coach like Coach McGuffin, who is a minority like myself, in a position where I would like to be – to see that he’s making a difference as a minority and that means that I can do the same,” says Spence.
And McGuffin sums up the NCAC initiative when he shares the simple but impactful message it sends to women and minorities: “They’re going to be included,” he says. “I love that word inclusion.”