EAGLE GROVE | Before the Forest City and Eagle Grove girls' basketball teams faced off Tuesday night, they spent about two minutes focusing on something more important than high school athletics.
That's because the two teams joined hands and stood together in silence as the national anthem played through the Eagle Grove gym speakers.
Both Forest City girls coach Dusty Meyn and Eagle Grove Superintendent Jess Toliver credited students from both high schools for coordinating the moment of silence, over a month since radio employees' racist comments were streamed online during a Forest City basketball game.
Meyn, now in his ninth year at the helm, applauded kids from both schools for their class.
"They're the youth of tomorrow," he said. "And it shows their maturity and they weren’t affected by a few words that were said."
Misty Morales Padilla, the mother of Nikolas Padilla — one of the Eagle Grove students mentioned by former KIOW employees Orin Harris and Holly Kusserow-Smidt — said it was great to see the two communities come together. She posted a video on Facebook showing the teams standing in a line, joining hands.
As of Thursday afternoon, the video had been viewed nearly 9,000 times.
"It brought the students a little closer even though the FC (Forest City) basketball team had nothing to be ashamed of, it was not them who racially degraded our children," Padilla said in a Facebook message to the Globe Gazette. "Our team did not hold the school or team responsible for what happened!"
Toliver said the decision by both schools was in the works since shortly after the comments were made by Harris and Kusserow-Smidt.
He added the players' actions helped relieve any possible tension in the Eagle Grove gym.
"When the game started, it just took the edge off everything," Toliver said.
Meyn added that after the game, both teams ate pizza paid for by KIOW. He applauded the radio station for helping feed the student athletes.
"Those are long nights and for some of those kids, they’re eating concession stand stuff for supper," Meyn said. "So it’s nice to eat a good meal."
Ultimately, Tuesday night is a good sign for both communities moving forward, Toliver said.
"It just shows really from our standpoint that it was never between schools," he said of the kids' actions. "It’s just that we’re going to play basketball and keep being kids."