President Elam announced that the football program was cut Oct. 13.
My teammates and I were in shock when you announced the cancellation in a brief meeting with the team, a meeting we were notified of 45 minutes before it began. In an email from President Elam, you then proceeded to brag about your unwavering support for other sports in a statement about our cancellation saying, “We remain committed to Oxy Athletics…We have no plans to discontinue any other varsity sport at the College. The opening of Oxy’s new De Mandel Aquatics Center and the expanded McKinnon Family Tennis Center are just the latest examples of the College’s commitment to athletic excellence.”
Our hearts broke. You never claimed to care about winning, then you told us that we were not good enough after we dedicated our minds and bodies to you. You offered few answers and quickly rushed out after killing a part of our identity. You left us speechless and wanting to be together despite being thousands of miles apart.
But first, I want to say thank you for making me the person I am today. Through my friends, teammates and professors, I have learned to open myself up to new experiences and ideas. You taught me to accept everyone for who they are. You taught me that no one fits in one academic box and encouraged me to explore everything I was interested in. You challenged me academically, athletically, politically and personally. Because of you, I am no longer a scared kid from Arkansas, but a global citizen who is able to empathize with others and have confidence in who I am.
Football brought us to Oxy, but we stayed because of our love for the school and those around us. We felt accepted for who we were, despite being young men from different regions of the country, with different socio-economic backgrounds and political views. We came together to transform the Occidental football program. While there were setbacks, we gave our all to meet any goal you set for us. We raised 1.4 million dollars for the football program that was redistributed to the rest of the school as well as the football team. We recruited classes of over 20 students-athletes who were qualified to attend Occidental and improved the football team. We worked to transform our culture to make Occidental a better place for all students. And anyone who was on the team or related to the team in some way (be it friends, family, coaches or opponents) knew that we were on the brink of achieving our goals. To have that taken from us brought tears to my eyes and left me questioning the values and the direction of the College I loved so much. It placed many of our futures in question: do we continue to attend the college who rejected such a large part of our identity, or do we move on to a school that values who we are and the sport we love?
To all my friends, professors and coaches who taught me to lead, help and be active in my community: thank you. To the alumni who gave us their unwavering support: thank you. Finally, to my teammates: I am sorry that we were not able to achieve our goals for football. I failed you and wish I had done more to ensure we finished our last years how we wanted. But I will never regret my decision to attend Occidental. You were the reason I came to Oxy, and I am so thankful that I did.
Class of 2022