By Clayton Coffman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Johnson and Chanti Beckett are just two of the African-American athletes that participate in Flagler athletics. They have both had the amazing opportunity to play collegiate sports. But it didn’t come with hard work just on the court.
“I realized how important school and character were going to be. It was more than being good [on the court] and a hard worker. They want to know what kind of person you are,” Johnson said.
Beckett, whose parents have a long history of athletic competition, has been playing sports since second grade.
“I set goals for myself to achieve much more than I can. A lot of people told me I really have a talent and should excel in it,” Beckett said.
As the month of February signifies Black History Month, both Johnson and Beckett have had their fair share of African-American role models to look up to.
“I really liked Magic Johnson. He was a tremendous player with great ball skills and vision. He was always there in the clutch,” Johnson said.
Beckett’s idol growing up, and one her friends said she reminded them of, was Charles Barkley.
“They always used to call me Charles Barkley. I really looked up to him cause he was a small forward in basketball,” Beckett said.
Beckett’s physical nature under the hoop confirms her friends’ comparisons of her to Barkley. This season, Beckett has averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Johnson’s passion to play college basketball came following his eighth-grade tryout for the basketball team.
“I tried out for the basketball team and I made it. That’s when I knew and I never played football again. Once I got to high school, it was only basketball,” Johnson said.
Beckett’s decision to play college basketball was easy. The bloodlines were there as her father, Charlie, played basketball at Maryland. Beckett’s mom, Carla Brogdon, played in high school but was more of a track runner.
The other factor in accepting Flagler’s scholarship offer: the Florida weather.
“I always wanted to go to school in Florida. It was the only school that was looking at me for basketball,” Beckett said.
As Black History Month concludes in the next week, many African-American athletes including
Jackie Robinson, Michael Jordan and Jim Brown have shaped the way sports are played in the last 50 years.
From racism towards Robinson to the murder of Jordan’s father, overcoming obstacles has been the way of African-Americans in the sports world.
And Johnson sees the same thing now in other black athletes including Dwayne Wade.
“I’ve been watching the commercials and they show how [people] fall and get back up. He takes a beating but he never stops. He never backs down,” Johnson said.