Posted On: 08/26/19 5:51 PM
More than Just a Game:
Volleyball, baseball, basketball, track & field… To many they all are just a game, but they can mean so much more. You see inspirational moments throughout sports whether it be triumphs from underdogs, communities coming together to support a player or family in need, or professional athletes taking time to Make-A-Wish come true. The game is a competition, but the family you find is what makes this sport we play and coach truly special. The volleyball community is no different.
The most recent relationship formed through volleyball is one I will forever cherish. Every season I found myself coaching against or watching the Arrowhead girls volleyball team. While there was a ton of talent in the gym, my attention always went away from the court and to the student section. There was an energy that they possessed and it was led by one individual..Brock Mielke. Brock has been a staple in Arrowhead student section as his brother Blake (UW-Madison) played football and sisters Taylor (UW-Madison) and Megan played volleyball. His support went beyond the Arrowhead gym and followed his siblings at the club and collegiate level.
There was something different about last season and Brock’s presence. I noticed the high school team all was wearing a shirt that said Brox21. Immediately I did some investigating and dove into what the logo stood for. It turns out Brox21 was the clothing line started by Brock himself.
What is BROX21? And why would I want to support it?
“My company was started so I could show the world that Down syndrome isn’t a road block to my future or to any other individuals carrying an extra chromosome, or living with a disability. Having an extra chromosome means that I have extra genetic material on chromosome #21. I have three, and the average person has two. Therefore, I have Trisomy 21, tri meaning 3 on the 21st chromosome. I’m really not much different than you. It takes me a bit longer to learn some things but I eventually get there. This is the same for all individuals with different abilities. We all want to be included and it’s important to realize how similar we really are. If the world would recognize this, more people with challenges would be employed and included. Supporting BROX21 by wearing my gear starts a conversation with those who are curious about what it is. Sharing it’s meaning educates and brings awareness to our similarities and spreads inclusion.
My logo BROX21 is my name plus a chromosome and the number 21. BROCK + X21 = BROX21. The X21 represents my extra chromosome. When you wear my gear, you are wearing my extra chromosome, X21. It is my hope that you don’t feel any different and you see how similar we really are. My extra X21 doesn’t stop me, and I hope you will share my vision that everyone should be included. If we were all the same, life would be pretty boring. Join me in rockin an extra chromosome, you will love it. Celebrate who you are, I know I am.”
MVP + Brox21
Soon after I did my research I reached out to some other members of the club and said we should figure out a way to join Arrowhead and support what Brox21 was representing. Luckily for us, Joel Golsteyn is on staff and actually grew up with Brock’s Mom Marybeth. Before we knew it we had a meeting scheduled to figure out how we could partner together for the upcoming club season.
Last season MVP put the Brox21 on all of our tops in our spirit wear. The best part was the conversations that followed throughout the season. I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, Orlando, Wisconsin Dells, and other cities in the midwest. Every event we attended brought more inquiries to what Brox21 stood for. One logo opened up so many conversations based around treating everyone equal.
About Me (Brock)
“My name is Brock and I have Down syndrome. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. It may take me a little longer to learn things but in reality, we are more alike than different.
I started my brand BROX21 because I refuse to put “dis” in my ability. It’s important that everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, and ability be treated equal. Take time to get to know individuals with different abilities. Everyone has a story, I’m hoping mine will change the world. Thanks for rockin’ my extra chromosome.”
Follow Brox 21
You will see Brox21 all over social media (if you don’t already) and see his brand be worn across the country. This goes to show that one person can make a difference. We are all created differently, but we deserve the opportunity to be seen as an equal. Volleyball has brought many people into my life, but the Brox21 family brings even more people together.
Click here for the Brox21 website
Brock is helping others see that everyone deserves to be treated equal and remind us that “Everyone has a story.” So go through this high school/club season and remember that all of your opponents and teammates have their own stories. Before we jump to judgement, realize that we don’t know what others have had to go through. Use the season to give back and include everyone no matter size, shape, or color. One person can make a difference in the world, and Brock is one of those people. Volleyball is an amazing sport where you will find life long friendships. Just remember, win or lose it is a game; treasure the relationships built and show respect to everyone you come across.
**All photos taken from Brox21 and Motion Volleyball Program social media accounts
**Quotes taken from Brox21 website and social media with permissions