A trip to the Black Student Athlete Summit in Houston, Texas was all it took to ignite a flame in Tariq Speights, motivating him to create the Eastern Michigan University Black Student Athlete Association (EMUBSAA) with his peers.
In May 2022, track athlete Ariel Floyd, men’s basketball player Derek Ballard, women’s basketball player Kyndal Lewis, and football player Speights were invited to Houston’s Black Student Athlete Summit to represent EMU Athletics.
The athletes felt “at home” being amongst other African American athletes present at the summit.
“That’s what we all turned to each other and said,” Speights said. “We wanted to create that environment here at Eastern.”
With only three months left in his masters program at EMU, Speights, who serves as president of EMUBSAA, was excited to return to Ypsilanti and begin foundation work of the organization with Floyd, Ballard and Lewis.
After the application process in September, creating bylaws and a constitution, the EMU Black Student Athlete Association was officially recognized as a student organization on campus.
What started as just a thought is now a reality for the group of EMU athletes.
Although the university has a Student Athlete Support Service and a student athlete advisory committee, having a space like this provides comfort among students who face the same challenges daily.
Newlyn Stephenson, a member of the men’s track and field team at EMU told the Echo, “The Black Student Athlete Association provides a safe space and common ground for Black student athletes to find support and people who understand what they are going through in life, class, and their sport.”
Still in the beginning phases, the organization has plans to host an outing for all African American student athletes, as well as organize community service events.
“I’m really excited for an organization like this to be available to us as Black student athletes,” Krista Blakely, EMU women's volleyball player and communications chair of EMUBSAA, said. “I think it will become a great way for us to connect and really put an emphasis on our family environment here at Eastern.”
Monthly meetings are held in the ‘Eagles Nest’ located on the second floor of the George Gervin GameAbove Center.
To get more information and support the Black Student Athlete Association at EMU, follow them on Instagram @emubsaa.