Redefining himself, senior Tarek Baig overcomes racism on the ice



Gliding on the ice, senior Tarek Baig demonstrates sportsmanship and drive as a team captain. As a captain, Baig attempts to create a hardworking environment to promote success for his team. “Making the right plays on the ice and working as hard as possible sets a good example of what success costs day in and day out. I tell people ‘nice play’ or lines like that so they know people are watching and are happy with how they’re playing,” Baig said.

‘Terrorist’, ‘number 18 is a terrorist’, ‘why aren’t you riding a camel?’ are all comments that no longer phase senior Tarek Baig as he skates across the ice.

“I’m sure people say it every game, but I usually hear it every other game. People will usually say it behind your back and not to my face,” Baig said.

Baig is one of two Indian players on the hockey team, which is uncommon to see on other teams in the area. He has endured stereotyping and overt racism over the course of his four years playing.

“When I played Clayton my freshman year I wasn’t really used to dealing with racial stuff on the ice,” Baig said. “I got rocked from behind, which is a penalty, and it hurt. When I was down, the fans started cheering that I was in pain and chanted.”

Having only played for club teams previously where crowds were comprised of parents, Baig had to adjust to grueling student and fan sections.

“At first I felt confused and then helpless because there was nothing I could do. Letting someone rip into you like that wasn’t easy,” Baig said.

The only way to get over [adversity] is to redefine yourself into who you want to be, and the only way that’s possible is through hard work.”

— senior Tarek Baig

Eventually, Baig learned how to handle himself and found the motivation to overcome the racial insults.

“If you don’t prove them wrong, they’ll win. To prove them wrong, I basically think of all the ways I can celebrate when I score in front of them,” Baig said. “I scored later against Clayton and it was the best feeling ever because I looked right in their faces and nodded at them.”

As a captain, Baig must also consider his team and his integrity when he responds.

“I know better than to react [strongly] and get a penalty or do anything stupid that could hurt the team. I just have to beat them on the scoreboard because in the end that’s all that matters,” Baig said.

Baig’s coaches and teammates were aware of the racism during games, though Baig said he prefers to deal with these instances himself.

“My coaches always have zero tolerance for racism and they know I can take care of myself when I deal with it. The boys know it sucks but there’s nothing they can do about it,” Baig said. “In the end, it’s my problem and only I can prove people wrong and succeed,” Baig said.

As Baig’s high school hockey and academic career came to a close, he advises others to work hard in order to overcome obstacles they may face.

“If there’s anybody out there facing adversity, hit the gym, books, whatever and start grinding,” Baig said. “The only way to get over the hump is to redefine yourself into who you want to be, and the only way that’s possible is through hard work.”