Community Productions

2008: Competing Against Discrimination: Achieving Equality In Athletics At The U of I


Students in the class of 2011 researched and interviewed 16 people who overcame obstacles because of race, gender or disability, talking to them about their experiences, said Uni student Maria Gao, who along with Anne Machesky, produced the hour-long documentary, Competing Against Discrimination: Achieving Equality in Athletics at the University of Illinois. It aired at 6 pm Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, on WILL-AM 580.

“We talked to some amazing people who accomplished a lot at the U of I,” Gao said. “Things are so different today than they were when some of these people were involved in sports at the U of I.” By hearing from athletes and coaches who broke barriers, she and the other students learned to “dream big,” she said.

“I learned about Tim Nugent, who after World War II was the first person to make the college campus accessible to students with disabilities. He made everything accessible with curb cuts and ramps. Now when I see the curb cuts, I know it all started here at the U of I,” she said.

Among those interviewed were Willie Williams, former track athlete, Olympian and assistant coach; J.C. Caroline, former football player and All-American; Karol Anne Kahrs, an administrator who worked for gender equity in athletics; Tony Clements, former football and basketball player; Ted Beach, former basketball player; Shawn Wax, former All Big Ten football player; Joshua George, co-captain of the U of I wheelchair basketball team and a bronze medalist at the 2004 Paralympic Games; Anjali Forber-Pratt, wheelchair track athlete; Gia Lewis, holder of the U of I record in the 20-pound weight throw and discus; and Jean Driscoll, elite wheelchair athlete and eight-time winner of the Boston Marathon.

WILL-AM’s Dave Dickey, who worked with the student producers, said he covered U of I sports for WILL-AM for many years, and knew many of the athletes and coaches. But the students were not familiar with them. “It was fun to see the students have those ‘aha!’ moments,” Dickey said.