Ashley Loup drove six hours in her Audi A4 to visit San Jose State University. She wasn’t there to visit family or friends or to take a vacation. She was determined to visit the university’s library.
Loup, a graduate student in American Studies at Cal State Fullerton, was writing a paper called “Gloves Fists and Bowed Heads: The Legacy and Public Memory of the 1968 Olympics.” She focused on Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two African American athletes and San Jose State alums who raised a “human rights salute” (which was coded as a “Black Power salute”) at the medal ceremony of the 1968 Games in Mexico City.
Loup scoured through hundreds of books, ravenous to learn more, exhilarated as the librarian told her she’d need to wear white gloves due to the oil seeping through the aging books. She squealed, standing on the university’s statute of Smith and Carlos, which had an open spot for second place (that’s where Australian competitor Peter Norman stood).
“I’m so lucky to have been able to (have) found this passion early,” Loup said of American Studies, a major that has combined her love for sports, history and law. “I’m so excited when I get to school, when I get to have these conversations with people. It’s a really creative path.”
Loup, who attended Cal State Fullerton as an undergraduate, found out she was accepted into the university’s graduate program on March 17, 2015. The first person she called? Her father, Jeff Loup, her biggest inspiration, the one who cultivated her love for football, the one who had coached her in soccer, basketball and tennis when she was the only girl on all-boys teams.
It took him a few minutes to figure out how to FaceTime, but once the two were face to face, so to speak, “he started hollering and whooping,” Loup said. “It was so exciting for both of us.”
The next day, Jeff was killed in a car accident.
Loup was devastated. She poured her grief into her academics. Studying…