It’s not unusual for first-time opponents to underestimate the lady Salam Stars.For now the team is respecting the old-country ways.
The girls can see it — in an opponent’s glance, maybe the way she drops her shoulders — when the Stars take the court looking demure in their traditional Muslim headscarves.
Then, without fail, Captain Safiya Schaub or one of her teammates will hustle for the basket, quickly post up and nail the layup.
Salam, meaning "Peace" in Arabic, is an Islamic school that draws students and families from around the globe to its campus at South 13th Street and West Layton Avenue. The school has been expanding its athletic opportunities for girls over the last decade and now fields teams in soccer, volleyball, track and cross country, in addition to basketball.School uniforms. Imagine that. Their contemporaries at the Catholic schools would understand.
Not all of the lady Stars wear the hijab outside school — it is a choice — but it's part of the uniform at Salam, in classes as well as athletics. And the school has had a waiver from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association for years for girls to compete in the headscarf, sweats and long-sleeved tees.
At the same time, the players present a challenge to old-country ways.
The girls' families are for the most part supportive. But it can still be a hard sell for some in more traditional segments of the community where women are expected to be modest, not competitive or aggressive.Read the article and discover that sometimes fans at away games aren't properly mannerly. That's unfortunate.
"My dad was kind of against it at first — it was more of a cultural thing than religious," said senior center Nadira Ali, whose parents emigrated from Somalia before she was born. "I eventually convinced him that when you go to college, it's more than just about grades. They're interested in the leadership you bring to the table."
Still, they have a strong fan base, particularly among classmates and siblings — boys and girls — teachers and a few parents.
But ask yourself, dear reader, when is the last time you saw somebody's babushka wearing a babushka to church, or to the department store?
I repeat, because repeat I must: "The task for the living is to continue to give young people, including immigrants, a country they can buy into, as well as to buy into the success of those young people."