More than basketball. That might be a good way to identify the aspirations of the members of the UCLA women’s basketball team. Besides being true ballers on the hardwood, the ninth-ranked Bruins are out to prove that they are equal competitors in the social justice arena as well. This is why they came up with the concept of More Than a D.R.E.A.M. ( Diversify, Reveal, Educate, Advocate, Motivate).
“I think for us, More Than a D.R.E.A.M. was something that I think we may have wanted to see when we were growing up,” UCLA guard Camryn Brown said during a Zoom conference call with the media. “Just kind of using our platforms to show the world that we are not one-sided. We’re way more than athletes and speak on our passions and then help inspire the next generation to grow up and be whatever they want to be and give them avenues that we didn’t have and hopefully open doors that were kind of shut and use out platforms that we have now and speak on our community.”
More than a D.R.E.A.M. is a social justice platform that the UCLA women’s basketball team has rallied around. Brown, along with teammate Charisma Osborne, both discussed why the organization was formed and its purpose.
“We are striving to be the cornerstone of change as we advance towards a world that embodies true equality,” Osborne said as she read off the group’s mission statement. “We are committed to sculpting a new culture in which everyone feels safe seen and heard regardless of race identity or background.”
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— UCLA W. Basketball (@UCLAWBB) October 31, 2020
With the country roiling in a divisive state and COVID-19 raging just about everywhere, it’s a wonder that the Bruins, along with the other Pac-12 Conference teams are even playing basketball at all this season. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the sports world to pump the brakes on all activities for several months. The nation went into a brief hiatus. Then the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer happened.
The death of Breonna Taylor was revealed to the public. Suddenly, America went into revolt mode. Like the rest of the country, sports figures, including student-athletes, began to use their voices to speak out. Dissent was in the air. Like their college peers elsewhere, carrying the burdens of racial and social justice on their shoulders almost became a mandate for UCLA women’s basketball players.
“It’s taken its toll mentally on them, and I really admire and appreciate their willingness to sort of having this experience,” UCLA women’s basketball coach Cori Close said. “We don’t have a true bubble but we are trying our best to keep as insulated as possible.”
Brown and Osborne are both fully engaged in this project. Former UCLA star Nina Westbrook has lent her support and backs the effort that Brown and Osborne has put in to make More Than a D.R.E.A.M. come alive.
“I know a lot of schools, and other places it’s not like that. For them to be able to support us publicly, and support us, it really means a lot” said Osborne.
Brown added, “When we show that we’re family, we don’t not mean it; they back us on whatever we’re doing no matter if it’s on the court. Clearly, this one is not. They back us on whatever.”
Close also shared the timeless effort it took for the players to put a conscious plan together over months of work in order to create a committee that is supportive of the social issues that are faced every day.
And with election time ending just this past weekend in the win for a Democratic nominee, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., the two players also highlighted their efforts to share knowledge-based information on the voting process via social media and their initiative to self-care, how to handle the election process and everything surrounding voting.
For Episode 1 of the Bruin Table Talk, go to their official Instagram here.
Additionally, the team has taken part in a recurring series, the Bruin Table Talk that is showcased on the team’s official Instagram page where they sit down with previous UCLA women basketball players and alumni to discuss current events and that of surrounding social justice issues. Close closed out the statement by sharing her hope for this upcoming season.
“We are trying to set the curve digitally, trying to make the most connected experience possible,” Close said.