When Madison East High School’s girls basketball team came out to warm up for their varsity game against conference rival Middleton High last night wearing exclusive #FuelOrCrutch shirts made especially for them by creator Jamaal Eubanks, it made him feel extremely proud. It was a major moment for Fuel or Crutch, a movement he started that focuses on positivity and overcoming adversity in a neverending effort to become great.
“Last night was a big deal for me. Never in million years did I think that I would create a movement that would be supported by so many people in Madison and Dane County,” Eubanks tells Madison365.
“I’ve known the head basketball coach [James Adams] for years since even when I was a kid, and I looked at it as an opportunity to get groups involved. So I reached out to him with the idea – especially thinking back to last year with the controversy with Middleton and East,” Eubanks continues. “I gave him the script behind it: This was an excellent opportunity to show unity and how they’re not using the bad situation from last year to give up or to quit working hard. It’s something to motivate them and push them to work harder.”
Last year, there was controversy after the East/Middleton girls basketball game when one of the Middleton students wrote a disparaging Instagram about the East players signing it #youregonnaworkforusanyways.” This year, Eubanks was happy to see the Madison East girls basketball program fully supporting the #FuelOrCrutch movement and the East Black Student Union selling the #fuelorcrutch wristbands in the hallway by the game.
“The girls loved it. They loved the idea. They loved the concept. They loved the message,” Eubanks says. “They definitely loved the way that it looked. This is the first time that I’ve custom-made shirts for a team like this and I think it turned out really, really well. I was very pleased.”
The inspiration for the Fuel or Crutch movement came from Eubanks own personal story and struggles in life.
“It came from the adversary that I have faced and sometimes making a million excuses for why I wasn’t where I thought I should be in life. I sat down and reflected and literally the same phrase kept coming to me as I was figuring out a way to better myself,” Eubanks remembers. “Out of the blue, the idea of ‘Fuel or Crutch’ came to me. I was, like, ‘Aw, man. That’s really good!’
“At the end of the day, it’s your choice on how you’re going to internalize those difficult situations in life – are you going to allow them to hinder you are are they going to serve as a push to motivate you?” he adds.
Eubanks is excited about how the movement is taking off and the boost he got from the Madison East girls team last night. This weekend, he will be presenting about Fuel or Crutch at the first annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Readiness & Success Summit will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Predolin Humanities Center at Edgewood College.
“For anybody that’s going to college or planning to go to college, there will be times when it’s not going to be easy. Of course, the easy thing is to give up, but we’re going to figure out ways to keep pushing and to change your mindset for those difficult times so that you can prepare for them and keep pushing to make sure you finish what you set out to complete,” Eubanks says.
“And beyond the MLK event this weekend, I have some things that I’m planning for Fuel or Crutch coming up,” he adds. “We will have some exciting things to keep this momentum going.”