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Beyond the Field: Train Like No One Is Watching

A Coach’s Job Doesn’t Stop At The End Zone

At a time when sporting events are getting cancelled, schools and universities are closing, and people are asked to stay isolated indoors, it’s never been so important to channel your dedication and motivation to your health and fitness. Although it may seem like there’s no end in sight with COVID-19, at some point, our lives will pick back up where we once left off, perhaps with a slightly new normal. Coach Gabe Giardina, Head Football Coach at Albany State University, emphasizes that “It is easy to do the right things when you’re with your teammates and coaches and have 24-hour accountability. It is not so easy when you are on your own.” Coaches and athletes know that they’re going to be expected to perform well on the field, which means their activities taking place off the field are going to make or break their teams once these sporting events are rescheduled.

Coaches across the country are embracing the idea of “training like no one is watching,” implementing virtual training for their athletes to continue staying in shape and improving their skill. The decisions made and actions taken off the field have a direct impact on an athletes performance on the field, and coaches have to be able to inspire and motivate their team during a time when social distancing is putting a damper on everything else. Florida A&M University’s Head Coach, Willie “Shotgun” Simmons, reminds us that “we do not get to control what type of adversity comes our way or when, but we do get to control how we respond to it.”

Check out some trainings from FAMU Strength & Conditioning Coach, Parker Brooks:

As we see the level of commitment and passion these coaches and athletes have, even during difficult times, it serves as a strong reminder of how historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have impacted sports and what we know of football today.

Before segregation was ruled illegal in 1954, HBCUs were producing top talent that played for predominantly black colleges and universities. The oldest athletic conference for black athletes was established in 1912, long before these athletes were allowed to enter into predominantly white institutions (PWIs). There were some black athletes integrating into PWIs as early as 1892, but it was rare and the experience was often inundated by racism, threats, and hateful crowds. Those experiences continued even after 1954, and the athletes that integrated into these PWIs are seen as pioneers of their time. “In part, the history of the civil rights movement was played out on those fields and in those campus arenas,” said ESPN.

PWIs were appealing because they usually offered more opportunities with better funding. It was more likely these teams would make it to championship games and that players would be scouted by professional teams. But this also means that as these athletes began integrating into PWIs for better opportunities, the HBCUs lost more and more of their top athletes. Today, “as HBCU sports departments move forward, financial setbacks will continue to be a challenge. Between 2006 and 2011, six HBCUs were listed among the 10 public NCAA D-I institutions with the least revenue, according to USA Today. None were in the top ten,” according to BET.com.

With COVID-19 causing increased financial strain on our communities, we believe in supporting our #OneBigCommunity now more than ever. Our HBCUs have changed history, provided opportunity, and kept our history alive. If you would like to join us in supporting this community by providing scholarship opportunities for today’s youth, feel free to donate by clicking this link or scan the QR code below.

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If you’re experiencing your own financial strains and can’t support the future leaders of tomorrow, feel free to share some of our content on your social media pages with the hashtag #OneBigCommunity, spread some positivity in the community, and/or join us for the Orange Blossom Classic in September. We will get through this as a community, serving as coaches in our own personal lives and communities.

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