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Alternative Break Inspires Ministry, Service

Chris Lytle

For many students, spring break is a vacation, a chance to step away from the stresses of daily life. But last year, Mary Carper and Kaylee Bluethmann (now sophomores) embarked on Marian University’s alternative spring break to Campton, Kentucky, and their experience wasn’t exactly a walk on the beach. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, the young women witnessed abject poverty - hungry people, living in a food desert, their lives oftentimes made even more complicated by a lack of education, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse.

Enter Sr. Susan Pleiss, OSF, pastoral associate at Good Shepherd Parish, the only Catholic Church in Campton, and all of Wolfe County. Both Mary and Kaylee were inspired by Sr. Susan’s outreach efforts...

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Major Taylor Velodrome Celebrates World-Class African American Cyclist

by Katie Bradley | Feb 20, 2014

In celebration of Black History Month, we are highlighting Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, namesake of the Major Taylor Velodrome, a part of the Lake Sullivan Sports Complex of which Marian University became manager in 2011.

“To call the Major Taylor Velodrome our home track is such an honor and a reminder to always strive to be the best. His name gives us greater significance,” said Dean Peterson, head coach of Marian University’s 24-time national championship cycling team and executive director at the Indy Cycloplex.

Taylor was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. He was the second African American man to win a world championship.

One of eight children, Major Taylor was born to Gilbert and Sophronia Taylor, on November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gilbert Taylor, a Civil War veteran, worked as a coachman in the home of a wealthy Indiana family, the Southards. Because Taylor’s father often brought his son to work with him, Taylor became close friends with the Southard’s son who was the same age. From the age of eight to twelve, Taylor lived with the Southards. During this time, he received a bike from the family and quickly became an expert trick rider.

When the Southards moved to Chicago, Illinois, Taylor had to fend for himself and earned money staging exhibitions and performing cycling stunts outside a bicycle shop. It is believed that Taylor performed the stunts wearing a soldier’s uniform, hence the nickname, “Major.”  

By the age of 13, Taylor won his first bike race. By 15, he beat the track record for a one-mile race. In 1895, he won a 75-mile road race outside Indianapolis, after which he was banned from the Indianapolis track for racial reasons. The same year, Taylor moved to Worchester, Massachusetts with his employer and racing manager Louis “Birdie” Munger.  

Taylor quickly became a professional cyclist, at one time holding seven world records. He traveled the world competing and winning despite frequent encounters of racism and attempts to ban him from or sabotage him during, races. He prevailed, setting world records in all races distances on the track and road.

 “He was a pioneer. The significance of what he did when you consider the true prejudice and plots to take him out of competition that he encountered, is nothing short of incredible. He worked against all odds and continued to win. He was committed to excellence, strength, and perseverance,” said Peterson.  

The velodrome opened in 1982 and was a facility required to host that year’s National Sports Festival. It was the first building built with public money in Indianapolis to be named for a black person and has played host to many national and international competitions, including the 1987 Pan Am Games. 

News Media Contact

Mark Apple
Vice President of Marketing Communications
mapple@marian.edu
317.955.6775

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