A Division III college football player who bucked a team decision by kneeling during the national anthem has been dismissed from the squad.
Gyree Durante, a sophomore backup quarterback at Albright College in Reading, Pa., took a knee before the game Saturday against Delaware Valley, making a decision that ran counter to his teammates’ decision to kneel for the coin toss and stand for the anthem.
“At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand,” Durante, who is from Norristown, Pa., told NBC10. “For me, it just happened to be on Saturday afternoon. I was just taught you fight for what you believe in, and you don’t bow to anyone. So I believe heavily in this. So I decided to fight for it.”
Albright is a private liberal arts school with an enrollment of around 1,700 and its teams compete in the Division III Eastern College Athletic Conference. At the recommendation of the team’s 24-player leadership council, the team had made the decision to kneel and then stand, agreeing to uphold the council decision and understanding that there could be consequences for not supporting the decision, the school said in a statement. The football coach dismissed Durante, in accordance with the leadership council’s standard.
Josh Powell, a freshman defensive end, said he thought the decision was selfish, even though he and other players understood Durante’s motivation. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go,” Powell told NBC10.
Durante, a business major, remains a student.
“This action, which was supported by the coaching staff, was created as an expression of team unity and out of the mutual respect team members have for one another and the value they place on their differences,” she wrote in an email to NBC 10 Philadelphia. “It was established as a way to find common ground in a world with many differing views. One football player, who unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support team unity and has been dismissed from the team.”
In a statement read before the game, the football team said:
Inside these white stripes is a perfect world. Inside this space, the game does not care about the color of our skin. It does not care how thick or thin our wallet is, what kind of car we drive or by what name we call God. It only measures us by how hard we work, how well we work together and how quickly we learn from and teach through its lessons. On this field, nothing is given but everything is earned. It is truly a perfect world.
We believe that our role is to expand the dimensions of this field and take those lessons and teachings with us into our classrooms and our dormitories; into this local neighborhood and back home with us to our families, our churches, our communities and into our society as a whole.
We storm this field behind the American Flag as a symbol of our commitment, our unity and the value we place on our freedoms. We both kneel and stand tall out of the mutual respect we have for each other and the value we place on our differences; because we believe that teamwork is not about tolerating our differences, but about valuing them.
We ask all of you to help us expand the dimensions of this field to grow this perfect world outside these stripes.
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