The front page newspaper headline read: “Neighbors Complain About Football Players.” Trash, noise, property damage—all blamed on Mendocino College athletes. The Black football players came from out of state to play ball in this majority White town. And now, just one month into the fall semester, their neighbors were signing a petition to evict them.
Six months earlier my colleague Troy Tisthammer and I had driven an hour-and-a-half to Mendocino College, located in the small Northern California town of Ukiah, to accomplish our goal of visiting every campus in our area. While there, we met the assistant football coach, who had led some Bible studies for the team, but he was moving out of the area.
He connected us to the head football coach, Frank Espy, who welcomed our partnership in spiritually developing his athletes. Now, here we were six months later in the middle of a controversy between the college and the town!