Student-athletes leading protests around Beaufort

in Community/News/Sports by

By Justin Jarrett

LowcoSports.com

Protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have taken place across the country in recent weeks, including throughout the Lowcountry. 

Two area student-athletes — Whale Branch basketball standout and Wofford signee Nick Pringle and Beaufort Academy tennis star Jayda Scheper — have been at the forefront of organizing rallies and marches in support of the movement in Beaufort. They spoke on the LowcoSports Lowdown podcast about their experiences growing up black in the Lowcountry and living through such a big social movement. 

Here is an excerpt of that conversation.

LowcoSports: What has your experience been like growing up as a black person in the Lowcountry?

Jayda Scheper: I didn’t realize what type of bubble I was in until I went to (Beaufort Academy), and that’s not to say anything bad about BA, by any means. But when I got there, I realized how much different I was from everybody else. Whenever I would speak out about something, they thought I was angry, so then I got the angry black girl type deal going on.

Nick Pringle: I grew up in Beaufort and went to all Whale Branch schools. Growing up, I really didn’t have any problems or see any racism or anything like what’s going on right now, but the last few years a lot of things have changed. I’ve started to see more of the things you see on TV that you wouldn’t think would happen in your city or happen in real life, but I actually had that happen to me. My brother was murdered. He got tased three or four times when he was being held down by three (Beaufort County Sheriff’s) officers and one firefighter. We’re trying to fight for justice for him. Right now we stand on the side of Boundary and Ribaut and protest for justice. We have a lot of support.

Lowco: How has sports given you an avenue to make your voices heard? 

JS: For a long time I was the only black girl playing tennis in SCISA that I saw. I had not seen a lot of people of color playing tennis, because it’s a mainly white-dominated sport. That was a big struggle for me because there was nobody else out there for me to relate to. For a minute there I didn’t want to play, but my dad told me to keep going. The reason that he started playing tennis at all was because he was out on the tennis court one evening with his uncle and some white man drove by and told him that he would never be good at tennis. So he vowed from there to be great, and if anybody knows anything about my dad it’s that he’s an amazing tennis player. I think tennis has allowed me to just not back down from it, to embrace being the only person of color playing tennis in our league. I feel like it amplified my voice more than silenced it.

NP: I grew up playing basketball, but football was my favorite sport. When my height started getting up there, I started taking up on the court more. I know I have a lot of people standing behind me, and I have a lot of other voices besides mine. That’s a good thing for me to use my platform and networking and get my voice out. And I will be using that to be heard and let people know my story and just try to make the world better, really, starting with our city.

Lowco: What has it felt like this week to see this movement building, not only across the country, but right here at home? 

NP: It really means a lot, just to see people coming out. I hate that it took this long for it to happen, but I’m just glad to see everybody out supporting each other. I’ve seen a lot of new faces that I’ve never seen before and a lot of old teachers. It’s exciting for me, knowing that my brother was one of the victims. I just hope it keeps moving forward and we strive for change. 

JS: It’s emotional to see that many people out there, like an overwhelming feeling of happiness and support and love. I can only imagine what it’s been like for Nick and his family to see that much support. For it to hit home for me, I know it must have hit home for them. I’ve said that this is beyond politics. Wherever you stand on politics, this is beyond politics. I was very surprised at some of the people I saw out there and the amount of people. It’s been an overwhelming amount of love and support.

The LowcoSports Lowdown podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts or any major podcast apps. 

Above, from left: Amanda Patel, Jayda Scheper, Braxton Tolbert and Shanese Bostick. Submitted photo.