More than 50 years ago, Bill Norwood became SIU’s first black quarterback. Who is your favorite barrier-breaking athlete?
Well, there’s that outfielder who they always show on TV crashing through the outfield wall. A wall is a barrier, right? Anyway, my favorite would be Jackie Robinson, for all that he dealt with as the first baseball player to break the sport’s color barrier. I don’t even want to think about what baseball would be like in the year 2009 without him.
Definitely Glenallen Hill. The former major league slugger overcame intense arachnophobia to lead a career of either striking out or hitting 900-foot homeruns.
I would have to say Dan Dickau. He showed all short, white guys that only know how to sort of shoot that it is possible to make it into the NBA. Sadly his NBA career came to an end last season after averaging a mind blowing 5.3 points per game with the Los Angeles Clippers.
I honestly didn’t know about my favorite trailblazer until I watched a recent HBO documentary called ‘Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football.’ Standing out among the players profiled in the film was Darryl Hill, who became the first black football player in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1963. It was Lee Corso, the man football fans love to love and/or hate Saturday mornings in the fall, who recruited Hill to play for Maryland. The young student famously replied, ‘I’m not Jackie Robinson. I just want to play football.’ Play he did, according to some impressive catches and YACs featured in the documentary. He also had to deal with a death threat before a game against South Carolina, which he said still affects him to this day. Add the fact he went on to get his master’s here at SIU, and Hill has got to be my barrier king.