This week for #BlackHistoryMonth we are excited to highlight Rod Hill, former NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, and Los Angeles Raiders, Blue Bomber Alumni and Honourary Board member of Special Olympics Manitoba.

This is how Rod reflects on our #BlackHistoryMonth questions.

Is there a black athlete who has inspired you? If so, who and why?

***I have never been externally motivated or can say any particular athlete was an inspiration to me but I can unequivocally state that my Mother and Maternal Grandmother love for me provided all the inspiration I ever needed but I do have something to share in regards to the question.

I have tremendous respect for Jackie Robinson-Baseball (First person to break colour barrier in modern professional sports) and Muhammad Ali-Boxing (Heavyweight Champion/Civil Rights Activist/Vietnam Objector). Both of the aforementioned gentlemen would certainly be at the top of any civilized persons list for the courage they displayed and sacrifices they made to promote equality in not just sports but every aspect of our society.

However, I do want to recognize someone that I believe deserves a great deal more attention here in Canada along with Willie O'Ree-Hockey (First Black person to play in National Hockey League) and his name is Herb Trawick.

Why is diversity and inclusion important in sport?

***First of all it is the right thing to do as a society. Sports throughout history has always been the leader for the expansion of diversity/inclusion in education, business, government and every other entity that impact our daily lives. Competitors want to compete against everyone within our realm to truly measure their athletic prowess. When you limit the competition it is no longer defined as sports and is now simply playtime.

How do you fight for inclusion?

*** I believe it is paramount for people with differences to intermingle whether it be in sports or life in general. The more time people with differences spend with one another the more likelihood both familiarity and trust can be built. We need to recognize that we have absolutely no control over outcomes because of the myriad of variables in both competitive sports and our daily lives. We don't have to fight for inclusion when ones mindset is on competing against self within a process as opposed to winning.


Duane Brothers

Duane started his career as a high school history teacher and basketball coach at Daniel MacIntyre Collegiate. He has since taught at the early and middle years levels, before serving as a school Principal and a District Principal of Planning, Research, and Technology with the Coquitlam School District in B.C. He returned to Winnipeg in 2001 and has served as an Assistant Superintendent with the Seven Oaks School Division, Superintendent with the Sunrise School Division, and the Superintendent of the Louis Riel School Division. 

As a facilitator and speaker, Duane has worked in British Columbia, Manitoba, the USA, and Mexico in the areas of organizational improvement, diversity, governance, and leadership. He has served on the Board of the National Principals Leadership Institute (NPLI) in NYC,  was on the Cabinet for the United Way Manitoba, the board of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, and is currently the board chair of Special Olympics Manitoba. In 2018, Duane completed his PhD at the University of Manitoba with a thesis entitled Complex Poverty and Urban School Systems: Critically Informed Perspectives on the Superintendency. 

Here is how Duane reflects and answered our Black History Month Questions:

Is there a black athlete who has inspired you? If so, who and why? 

Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in major league baseball in 1947. A true trailblazer and a role model for all for generations that followed. He demonstrating excellence and grace, while facing discrimination on a daily basis. 

Why is diversity and inclusion important in sport? (Or to you in general) 

Sport needs to be open to all because it can improve all lives in body and mind. When there is diversity and inclusion, new and positive relationships can be fostered that may not have otherwise been developed. As well, we can all recognize that when there is diversity, sports improve in all parts of their game!

How do you fight for inclusion? (In sport and/or in life) 

I fought for inclusion when I coached basketball, everyone was welcome and sought out people of different backgrounds. I fought for inclusion in writing my master’s and PhD dissertations, both of which explored issues of race in public schooling. As an assistant superintendent and as a superintendent, I supported programs that prepared Indigenous and teachers from other countries for teaching positions in Winnipeg. As well, I ensured that people of colour were being hired as teachers.   

While officially retired from the k-12 system.  Duane has been teaching graduate level courses of the University of Manitoba and doing consultative work.


In this movement, we fight for inclusion, regardless of race, ability, and background, every single day. For #BlackHistoryMonth, @SpecialOlympics is proud to celebrate our black athletes, coaches and supporters & the impact they are making on their communities.