Loyola Chick-fil-A jammed on national ‘Appreciation Day’

By Mason Dowling

Crowds lined up halfway down the block Wednesday at Chicago’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant, many there to show their support for the chain’s stance on traditional marriage.

The Water Tower Chick-fil-A at Loyola University Chicago was more crowded than usual, as people showed up in support of the chain’s anti-gay marriage position. However, there also were people who showed up in support of gay marriage.

Dubbed “National Chick-fil-A Day,” by conservative Republican Mike Huckabee, patrons were urged to visit any of the fast food chain’s outlets Wednesday to support the restaurant’s opposition to gay marriage.
These values were first forwarded by Dan Cathy, current president of Chick-fil-A, almost a week ago during an interview with Baptist Press. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” claimed Cathy, emphasizing the company’s strong Christian belief system.

Several notable government officials, including Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spoke out against this standpoint. Chicago Ald. Joe Moreno even went so far as to state his refusal to allow Chick-fil-A to expand within his ward, as a form of protest.

Huckabee urged people across the country to flood out today to show support for the chain, and flood they did. However, if Chicago’s turnout was any indication, not everyone present was supporting one side or the other.

Jim Rosell, 46, of Chicago, was one of many customers who formed a group of free-speech supporters. “I really don’t care what his (Cathy) thoughts on marriage are, but I completely support his ability to share his thoughts,” he said

“Whichever side you stand on, whether you’re for traditional marriage or same-sex, I think that’s fine to hold your belief. At the same time, to run a business…if you don’t like the business or what it stands for, then don’t come here,” said John Adamson, 31, of Chicago’s southern suburbs. “I don’t think we need to be banning or prohibiting things.”

The majority of customers seemed to share these sentiments, the majority supporting the Chicago Chick-fil-A branch to oppose Ald. Moreno. In a statement to the press made last week, Lauren Silich, the owner of the Chicago branch of Chick-fil-A, stated her own opinions on the matter.

“We are not a corporation – we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated. We are Chicagoans who are dedicated to serving our community,” she said last week. Silich was not available for further comment Wednesday.
Loyola University Chicago students weighed in on the issue, as well. Cady Holmes, a 21-year-old Loyola senior, picked a neutral standpoint.

“I am against them supporting bigotry and won’t be a customer there, but I recognize that he (Cathy) can run his company however he wants to. Everyone has a choice in the matter,” she said.
Members of the religious community were present at Chick-Fil-A as well, though not all to support Cathy’s viewpoints.

“Our founding fathers had Biblical values, and I believe in traditional marriage also, so I’m here to support that,” said Matina Verdusco, 48, of Chicago, one of the few formal protesters.

“I’m here to support Chick-Fil-A because I am a Born-Again Christian, and I want people to know that we do not hate gays,” said Juanita Bailey, 64, of Hyde Park. “I’m here to support what I believe in, support Chick-Fil-A, because they have a right to say their views. If the gay community wants to demand tolerance, they need to show tolerance towards other people’s beliefs. It’s not a hate thing.”

Loyola basketball team to commemorate ‘Game of Change’

“Game of Change,” March 15, 1963

By Garrison Carr

On March 15, 1963 Loyola University Chicago and Mississippi State took the court for what many have dubbed the “Game of Change.” What some people may not know is that the game almost didn’t happen.

Mississippi State was prohibited from playing integrated teams at the time. The Bulldogs had to sneak out of town under the cover of darkness, defying the sitting governor, in order to play the Ramblers who had four African-American starters.

The so-called “Game of Change,” an NCAA tournament semifinal, took place in East Lansing, Mich. The Ramblers ended up beating all-white Mississippi State 61-51 without incident in Michigan State’s legendary Jenison Field House.  The Ramblers used the game as a springboard to win the 1963 NCCA National Championship.

In order to commemorate the landmark basketball game, the schools have agreed to meet on the hardwood once again this December 15 in the Gentile Arena, in the first of a home-and-home series which will conclude in the 2013 campaign. It is the first match-up between the schools since 1963 and the first time Loyola will host a Southeastern Conference opponent since South Carolina traveled to Chicago in 1986.

“On the 50th anniversary of the famous `Game of Change’ we are thrilled that Mississippi State was willing to partner with us to recognize the historical significance of this contest,” Loyola Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “Loyola’s 1963 NCAA Tournament game versus Mississippi State served as a vehicle to challenge segregation and helped to forever change college basketball and civil rights in this country.”

Second-year Ramblers head coach Porter Moser is well aware of the significance of the game.

“Getting to know the story is one thing, getting to know the people involved is another. I’ve gotten to know those guys, and they are phenomenal guys,” Moser said. “I’ve listened to the stories of what they went through, not being able to eat at certain places, not being able to stay at certain hotels. The story of social injustice at the time is unbelievable. For those two teams to come together – to see that picture of those two teams shaking hands, it’s chilling.”

Moser, who is friends with Mississippi State coach Rick Ray, believed the game was possible as soon as his friend was hired.

“When Rick Ray got the job, I called him right away,” he said. “I told him ‘I need to send you this video [of the 1963 match-up], we need to play.’”

Moser knew it wasn’t common for an SEC team to visit Loyola, “but if you can come here, we’ve got to play,” he told Ray.

Commemorating the Game of Change wasn’t only important for Loyola, but also for Mississippi State.

“We’re excited to join Loyola over the next two seasons in celebrating this historic occasion,” current Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said in a release. “Loyola won a national championship; Mississippi State helped to make for a better way of life. As a Bulldog, I’m proud of this team and the individuals who helped move our state forward when doing so took courage and conviction.”

Second-Team All-Horizon League Forward Ben Averkamp, a returning senior starter for Loyola, was on hand to honor the 1963 Ramblers when they were honored in the Springfield statehouse this spring.

“I was fortunate enough to go down to Springfield when they passed the resolution for the ’63 team. I started to understand how important that team was with regards to social justice,” Averkamp said. “It was amazing to hear some of the stories from those guys and what they went through. I think it’s really important to celebrate the 50th anniversary.”

Averkamp also believes the marquee game will benefit the Ramblers throughout the remainder of their season.

“I think it’s great for us, anytime you have a strong non-conference season,” he said. “We were fortunate to get a home-and-home series, it was phenomenal to be able to pull that off. We’re looking forward to a great crowd and hopefully picking up a big win.”

Coach Moser also expressed his pleasure at being able to negotiate the series in a way which benefited both teams.

“Home games are so hard to come by, much less home games against opponents in the big six conferences,” he said. “We’re excited about the importance of the game, but also the level of the school. We’re trying to upgrade everything, including the schedule. It’s all a part of changing the culture.”

The Ramblers are coming off a 7-23 campaign in Moser’s first season with the team. The Ramblers, including Averkamp and eight newcomers hope to improve on that mark this season. The remainder of the Ramblers’ schedule will be released later this summer.