The Brooklyn Nets’ G-League team, the Long Island Nets, in partnership with Section VIII in Nassau County and Section XI in Suffolk County, have created Team Up for Unity, a program with the mission to ensure racism does not have a place in sports on Long Island. Manhasset Athletic Director Jim Amen chose Manhasset junior Amelia Harley to represent Manhasset as one of 12 Long Island athletes chosen for the program.
“I reached out to some of our staff because we were looking for a dynamic student-athlete who can communicate well,” Amen said. “[Amelia is] definitely someone that stood out as a junior and has leadership qualities.”
Harley runs track at Manhasset and will be involved in panel discussions for Team Up for Unity that have taken place since January 2021 and will go through June 2021. The panel will discuss the effects of transgender rulings on sports for women and girls, preparing minority student-athletes to take the “high road” when faced with prejudiced statements and actions by officials and opponents, understanding privilege, bullying and eliminating assumptions that Black and Brown athletes are “supernatural” and don’t need extra support.
“I was really flattered when Mr. Amen reached out to me because he said he wanted someone who was a dedicated student, a good public speaker and a dynamic personality,” Harley said. “I’m definitely a very outspoken person so it was a really big honor to be chosen. I felt really privileged that I had the opportunity to be part of this change because it’s something that’s really important to me.”
The panel discussions will also include student-to-student-hosted conversations as a way for student-athletes to share their views and conversations with local business leaders on how businesses are combating social injustices and systemic racism. These panel discussions will be held over Zoom and open to the public.
“Essentially, the Team Up or Unity organization, the team of student-athletes, we each participate in discussion with certain business leaders on Long Island to discuss how they are combating social injustices and systematic bias,” Harley said. “The students are moderating the conversation so we’re the ones doing the interview. We intend for these conversations to be powerful tools, to inspire other people.”
High school sports might be the last time many play competitively. While wins and losses are important, the social construct of a team environment can have an effect that lasts a lifetime.
“Sports are meant to be a unifying measure,” Harley said. “That’s why you shake hands with the team before you play, you shake hands after you play, and your team becomes your family, especially in Manhasset. In your family, I think it’s important to talk about these things, because everyone on their teams, whether you fight or argue, at the end of the day you love each other.”
Harley is casting a large net as she keeps her options open for college and would like to pursue a career in a business-related field.