WNBA star Brittney Griner is unquestionably one of the greatest athletes in the history of Baylor University, but in her new memoir, Griner reveals that she didn't always feel comfortable as a member of the Lady Bears.
According to Evin Demirel of Slate.com, Griner admitted in her book, In My Skin, that she often felt ostracized due to Baylor's policies against homosexuality.
Despite Griner's everlasting impact on Baylor, the 23-year-old Phoenix Mercury phenom doesn't feel welcomed in terms of being a representative for the university:
I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it's hard to do that. I've spent too much of my life being made to feel like there's something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn't erase all the pain I felt there.
Griner doesn't seem to regret her decision to attend Baylor. However, she can't help but think that the university benefited from her presence without embracing who she is as a person:
The more I think about it, the more I feel like the people who run the school want it both ways: they want to keep the policy, so they can keep selling themselves as a Christian university, but they are more than happy to benefit from the success of their gay athletes. That is, as long as those gay athletes don’t talk about being gay.
Griner talks about the policies in the memoir, expressing frustration at not being able to kiss her girlfriend in public without it getting back to her head coach, Kim Mulkey. Griner says Mulkey made it clear to keep her sexuality out of the public eye.
To say that Baylor benefited from Griner would be an understatement. Griner was arguably the most dominant player in the history of women's college basketball as she set the all-time record for blocked shots and led Baylor to a perfect 40-0 campaign in 2011-12.
Griner was aware of the challenges that she might face at Baylor, but she was encouraged to attend the school after Mulkey initially showed indifference regarding her sexual preference during the recruiting process.
"Big Girl, I don't care what you are," Mulkey said, according to Griner in the memoir. "You can be black, white, blue, purple, whatever. As long as you come here and do what you need to do and hoop, I don't care."
Even though Griner may not feel as though Baylor is completely appreciative of her contributions, the support for Griner with regard to In My Skin has been palpable.
United States soccer star Sydney Leroux is one of many who have acknowledged Griner since the memoir became available:
It is extremely unfortunate that Griner doesn't have a great relationship with Baylor considering what she meant to the university and helped it achieve, but she can take solace in the fact that she continues to inspire people on a daily basis.
Griner is clearly comfortable with who she is, and that is a great example to set for others.
Additionally, Griner should be commended for airing her grievances about her time with Baylor without taking any cheap shots. She has handled this situation the right way, and Baylor would be wise to consider mending fences since she could unquestionably be a great ambassador for the university if asked.
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