HBCU Capsule: The Coppin Tradition

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In honor of BHM, SLAM presents: THE HBCU CAPSULE COLLECTION

Let's take it back to the 90s. When Coppin State University ruled the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the 1996-97 roster was different. The Eagles, trained by Ronald L. "Fang" Mitchell, were regular season and conference tournament champions, beating North Carolina A&T in overtime. Coppin's 20-game winning streak (fourth in five years) didn't stop there.

This 15-seed team from Maryland rocked the basketball world by beating number 2 in NCAA tournament, South Carolina, by 13 points, becoming the first MEAC school to do so. Eagles fly high, don't they?

Fang Mitchell still holds the title of Most Successful Coach in MEAC and School History that is deserved. He is six-time MEAC Trainer of the Year for over 28 seasons and has led Coppin State to four NCAA tournaments. The men's basketball team 1996-97 and Mitchell showed that not only can we compete, we can win.

Coppin State Eagles security guard Antoine Brockington scores when South Carolina Gamecocks security guard B. J. McKie and striker William Gallman attempt to block him.

"Coppin was the team in the '90s," says Gary Williams, former Coppin Basketball announcer. “The culture around the team was very positive. Coppin was different from other HBCUs because we didn't have a band. We didn't have a band to cheer us on so we had to do it on our own. "

Even though we didn't have trumpets and drums, our fans showed up and made enough noise to make the place rock.

"I was working on a local radio station here in Baltimore for the weekend of the 1996-1997 NCAA tournament," says Willams. "And I was just telling fans, 'Don't make plans for Sunday because we're going to win South Carolina on Friday,' and we did."

The Gamecocks overlooked their opponent and, according to Melvin Watson, they were caught slipping. Ask any other member of your team, including head coach Eddie Fogler, and they will tell you Coppin showed up and showed up.

"They zoned us, that was the way we played," said Fogler. "But I don't make excuses. You were better than us."

BJ McKie says he couldn't even see the game as memory haunts him to this day.

"You're number 1 in this group, reporters want to talk to you and all of a sudden as the game progresses the crowd changes and they suddenly cheer for Rocky instead of going for the Russian, you know?" It's almost like you are in a very bad dream. Except you have to play and everything is just starting to snow … and we all know the result. "

Coppin State and HBCU basketball programs have been the wave since then, and still are today. We know what it takes to fight adversity – our 2007/08 men's basketball team was 12 to 20 years old and had a three percent chance of reaching the tournament. And what did we do? Contrary to all forecasts.

It is rooted in our past and present. Coppin teaches his color students their history, and I've been able to learn more about African American history and culture from day one. I even took two African American literature courses that introduced me to famous writers like Nikki Giovanni, Margaret Walker, and even Richard Wright. I attended a varied school environment growing up in California, but the American school system deprives students of the enriching and educational literature created by black writers. Since I am attending Coppin State, I am fortunate to be able to take courses that convey a history of a different culture that was alien to me than someone who is Latina, but in reality, students attending other schools have that luxury Not . We have to face this challenge, perform on and off the pitch.

As my time at Coppin comes to an end next year, I encourage students to be open to HBCUs as that experience and culture cannot be found on the hardwood or in the classroom in regular facilities.

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Desiree Carrizosa is a junior at Coppin State University specializing in English. Desiree is from Moreno Valley, California and her favorite team are the Lakers.

In honor of Black History Month, SLAM partnered with 19Nine to bring out four retro shorts from monumental seasons when the Eagles, Bison, Pirates and Maroon Tigers put their schools on the map.

They are now available at SLAMgoods.

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