The Kansas volleyball players stood at attention during the national anthem before their Big 12 match Saturday against Baylor at Horejsi Center. They already had sent their message.
Before the anthem, the Jayhawks got down to one knee for a moment of reflection on issues calling social justice into question, regarding incidents that have led to some athletes protesting by not standing for the pregame Star Spangled Banner.
The team decided to send the message, according to junior middle blocker Chayla Cheadle, in the wake of an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, being shot and killed. Crutcher’s death resulted in Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby getting charged with first-degree manslaughter. Shelby entered a not-guilty plea.
“We decided we wouldn’t do it for the anthem because we want to have respect for our country,” Cheadle said. “We felt doing it before the anthem would be more respectful and send a positive message.”
Kansas coach Ray Bechard said the team had several discussions leading up to the moment.
“Our team is as diverse as any volleyball team in the country,” Bechard said. “We come from all different backgrounds, but we still know what it’s like to treat each other the right way, be compassionate for each other, be tolerant of views and the team thought what a great message to send.”
Also, each individual has an action plan to do something to benefit the community, Bechard said.
Cheadle said she and several other players will do volunteer work for Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence.