With the upcoming U.S. presidential election just 11 days away, NCAA athletic programs across the nation are encouraging its student-athletes to exercise their right to vote.
UB Athletics has joined the effort in registering its players to vote through its Stronger Together Task Force.
The task force consists of 15 student-athletes and 15 athletic staff members and is designed to fight racial injustice and encourage others to vote through the non-profit organization, Rock the Vote.
UB’s head coaches have unanimously agreed that all student-athletes should exercise their right to vote and are educating the players on how to vote and research candidates.
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Whitesell says it’s been a team effort on educating the players, but credits Video Coordinator Jack Fitzpatrick for taking the next step with the basketball players.
“I feel it’s our obligation to vote. It’s been really exciting to see our guys get registered and talk about the voting process,” Whitesell said. “Jack has done an incredible job. He has helped the guys get registered and has informed them of the importance of studying the whole ballot.”
The men’s basketball team released a video on Tuesday declaring the entire team is registered to vote. Despite coming from cities across the country, the team is fully registered to vote in their respective home-states, and encourages its fans to do the same.
Head Football Coach Lance Leipold shared a similar sentiment, highlighting the importance of not only participating in national elections, but local ones as well.
“If we truly want to make change, we have to be active in our local and national governments and exercise our right as American citizens to vote,” Leipold said. “Hopefully our student-athletes will take this opportunity to educate themselves on the policies of all our offices, both locally and nationally.”
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Felisha Legett-Jack is adamant about her players voting, emphasizing the importance of this year’s election.
“Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does,” Legett-Jack said. “Exercise your right to have a voice through your vote.”
The women’s basketball team released a video in June declaring their united stance against racial inequality, with women’s basketball players and staff members stating they “stand together” in a fight for justice.
Jack isn’t only setting an example for her players on the court. Through social activism, she’s giving them lessons to take away wherever they end up in life.
Being young college students, most players have no prior voting experience. Whitesell wants the players to make the most of the opportunity.
“For most of our players, this will be the first time they vote,” Whitesell said. “I can remember my first opportunity when I was in college. They won’t forget it. Who knows, we may have a future mayor or senator in our locker room.”
In an election year during a global pandemic, UB coaches and student-athletes want to make it clear that their voices will be heard, and encourage others to do the same.
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DeCicco42.
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m.