PERRY, Iowa — Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s name is still being chanted long after the Iowa Caucuses, but some are using his name to degrade a diverse school’s basketball team.
Perry High School bucks the trend of what is typically found in a rural Iowa setting.
“We are really more of an urban school in a rural setting. Here at the high school, we are 48 percent minority,” said Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger.
They embrace that diversity and it shows on the basketball court with players of Latino, Native American and African American heritage.
“It’s all about who you are as a person and that’s what is great about a small town like Perry,” said head basketball coach Ned Menke.
But that diversity isn’t being celebrated by everyone.
At Monday night’s game against Dallas Center-Grimes, opposing fans used Trump’s disdain for illegal immigrants to target several players of Latino descent.
“We are all aware of racism, it’s alive and well in small portions but it’s alive and well and it’s just hurtful to see that’s what they resort to,” said Kevin Lopez, Perry Student Section Leader.
Chants like “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “USA” were said.
According to players, chants like, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” were said and they were trying to intimidate Perry players by reciting things Trump has said about what he plans to do with immigrants and their children if he is elected.
It’s cut the community and players like senior Shammond Ivory deep.
“It’s honestly disrespectful. That’s how I take it. I hear it during the game, on and off the court. Everywhere I go,” Ivory said.
It’s been a constant almost all season for Perry.
“We had an Instagram issue two weeks ago with a conference school, and I’ll say the school administrators took care of it very well,” Marburger said.
But the Blue Jays have found a way to turn the other cheek and turn it into motivation.
“As soon as I hear something like that, it just triggers me and it makes me strive for more and to do it for my team, coaches and my community,” Ivory said.
A checklist of sportsmanship traits immediately greets all those that walk into the Perry gymnasium. They hope opposing teams follow suit, and if they don’t, players hope their game on the court can change their hearts and minds about race.
“It’s not about color. We are all equal,” Ivory said.
Dallas Center-Grimes Activities Steve Watson confirmed the chants at Monday night’s game and said the issue has been addressed at the school. He declined to comment on whether or not any students were disciplined.
Last Monday, Perry Coach Ned Menke was given the Iowa High School Association’s Character Counts Coach of The Year award.