Thursday, Nov 19, 2020
Program is part of the athletic conference’s United for Justice campaign
A video featuring Rider Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kevin Baggett is among the first to be released as part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s new Time Out for Black Lives initiative, which was announced on Nov. 19.
The initiative aims to inspire and educate youth, athletes, families and fans. Time Out for Black Lives has an interactive website where coaches and student-athletes from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) basketball programs contribute their time and resources to read children’s books in entertaining videos, all focusing on black culture, history, music and myths.
The program comes as part of the MAAC’s United for Justice campaign that was announced over the summer.
“I’m proud to take part in Time Out for Black Lives,” Baggett says. “Being able to intersect two very important things like reading and social justice while reaching a young audience makes the initiative one that will no doubt have a meaningful impact.”
In addition to Baggett, Rick Pitino, Iona men's basketball head coach, and Heather Vulin, head coach of the Manhattan’s women’s program, are part of the first wave of released recordings.
"I am incredibly proud of the MAAC and every member school for taking steps to make this mission actionable,” Pitino says. "This basketball reading program is intended to help children develop reading, writing, and thought-provoking skills while recognizing the outstanding contributions and achievements of many great Black leaders.”
Pitino partook in a similar program while coaching in Greece and was a strong advocate for the MAAC to launch its own program. Coaches throughout the conference felt strongly about the Time Out for Black Lives program and were eager to partake.
Vulin says she’s excited about the initiative. “I feel it puts representation to the forefront and starts exposure and conversations on diversity, equality and inclusion early for our children.”
Student-athletes will also take part in Time Out for Black Lives, as they have in past MAAC initiatives. Student-athletes are able to share their life experiences and lessons in a way that local students can easily connect to, as was evident in last year’s MAAC Gives Back program where basketball programs visited local elementary and high schools.
All videos will be highlighted on the new website built specifically for the reading program, timeoutforblacklives.com. Posted videos will feature short biographies on each coach or student-athlete, with kid-friendly information such as the reader’s hometown, favorite book and favorite basketball player. There are also “Let’s Talk About It” resource guides to help parents/teachers start discussions with the children viewing the videos.
“Teaching children about these important parts of history is so important now more than ever, and the MAAC is proud to give back to its communities,” says MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “We hope this program is just one of many included in the conference’s United for Justice campaign. Kudos to all involved in this project and for their support of social justice initiatives.”