Nico Collins: The Man Behind the Helmet

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Photo Credits: Don and Nico Collins

Interview Credits: Don and Nico Collins; Robert Nelson Jr.; Kevin Brown (Xtreme Fitness & Performance – 1305 2nd Ave N., Suite 106 Birmingham, Ala. 35203)

Music Credits: Logic – Everybody; Drake – Sacrifices; Nas – The World Is Yours; Biggie – The Sky is the Limit

Sources: Rivals.com; AL.com; espn.com

Unsung Heroes Part I: Roderick Jackson V. Birmingham Board of Education

Photo Credit: espn.com

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, because standing up for what one believes is the right thing to do often times leads to consequences and backlash.

In “History Repeats Itself: The Protest that Began Over Four Decades Ago,” John Carlos, National Track and Field Hall of Famer and Olympic medalist, discusses the consequences he experienced following a humanitarian statement during the 1968 Olympics that was viewed as a protest of the American flag. Carlos and Tommie Smith, Olympic gold medalist, received death threats and were suspended from the U.S. team after standing with gloved fists during the medal ceremony.

In some cases, people may even be blackballed for standing up (or kneeling down) and speaking out. Former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who spearheaded a national protest by choosing to kneel during the singing of the national anthem during the 2016-17 NFL season, has yet to be signed by an NFL team for the upcoming season. While Kaepernick isn’t the best quarterback on the market, he’s not the worst; therefore, there’s a strong chance he’s being blackballed.  http://wp.me/p4cFCW-qw

In a 2013 AL.com article, former Ensley and Jackson Olin High School girls head basketball coach Roderick Jackson suggests he’s been “permanently blackballed” from coaching in the Birmingham city school system. In 2001, as the girls head coach of then Ensley High School, Jackson complained the girls didn’t receive the same treatment as the boys team: the girls practiced in the old gym with wooden backboards, bent rims and no heat, had old uniforms and no budget for shoes, weren’t able to keep any money generated from admission and concessions and had to car pool to games while the boys used buses.

According to espn.com, Jackson spent $700 out of his own pocket to supply his players with shoes in his second season as head coach. He asked to review the athletic department’s books but was told they weren’t any of his business. Jackson complained to the athletic director and principal and they ignored him. Players even met with the principle to complain about the car pooling and practice facility; she told the players she would change it but never did. To make matters worse, the girls junior varsity program was cut.

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The Lost Art of the Game: From a Player to a Critic’s Perspective

 

Now that University of Connecticut head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has given his perspective of the game, allow me to add my two cents…

In his recent song “False Prophets,” rapper J.Cole makes a statement “always worried about the critics who aint never freaking did it, I write what’s in my heart, don’t really care who messing with it. But in a sense, I can relate, the need to be great turns into an obsession that keeps a brother up late writing words, hoping people observe the dedication that stirs in you constantly, but intentions get blurred.” That’s the clean version.

Well, I always write what’s in my heart, whether readers agree or not. And in this case, I am a critic, but the difference is I have done it.

I’ve had the perspective of an athlete, a coach and now a fan and a writer. But, it’s tough to be a fan and a writer and not be critical. So, as I critique the game and the players who play it, I have to remind myself I was once a player being talked, written, tweeted and posted about, good and bad. It annoys me to sit in the stands at a basketball game and fans make comments when they don’t even know the game or down-talk a player when they couldn’t do any better themselves. Although I’m entitled to my perspective, I try to be as honest and respectful as possible. Read More

Jen Welter: Women, Publicity and Leverage

Photocredit: fansfavoritefan.com

In the summer of 2015, Jen Welter took the sports world  by storm becoming the first woman coach in NFL history. Welter was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason to work with inside linebackers. But once her month-long internship with the Cardinals concluded, Welter didn’t land a full-time coaching job in the NFL.

This begs the question if Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had any intentions of hiring Welter full-time or whether it was a publicity stunt for the Cardinal organization to be the first to give a woman a chance to coach in the NFL. A little less than a year prior to Welter being hired, Becky Hammon became the first full-time, paid woman coach in the NBA, working as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Even with her reputable collegiate and professional basketball resume and future Hall of Fame likelihood, it’s likely Hammon did have to intern with the Spurs to see if she would be a good fit. However, the groundbreaking news was that Hammon was actually hired as a full-time assistant coach… meaning the internship was private and the announcement of her being hired was made public; the complete opposite of Jen Welter’s situation. Read More

Burkett Leads Visiting Team to Back-to-Back “Coaches vs. Coaches” Victories

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Hoover’s Charles Burkett scored 15 second-half points to lead his team to victory in the 2nd annual “Coaches vs. Coaches” basketball game.

Hoover’s Charles Burkett picked up where he left off from last year’s “Coaches vs. Coaches” basketball game leading his visiting team to a 70-66 victory.

In the first ever “Coaches Got Game Too” matchup in 2015, Burkett finished with 17 points and the only dunk of the game that was the cherry on top of a sweet, comeback victory for his ball club.

Click link to see highlights of 2015 game.

https://byoungncompany.com/2015/10/14/coaches-got-game-too-highlights/

This time around, Burkett and company led the entire first half, entering the break with a 36-31 advantage. However, similar to the previous year, the home squad didn’t go down without a fight. Led by Restoration Academy Demetrius Coates’ eight second-half points, the home team would go on a 17-to-9 run to take a 48-45 edge entering the fourth quarter.

Leading with just under five minutes left to play, home-team captain and event host Darrell Barber of Midfield said his team needed to continue to take care of the ball, play together and limit Burkett. Read More

The Big Question: Is Transferring The Same As Quitting?

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Photo credit: thespun.com

Following University of Alabama redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Barnett’s decision to transfer last month, there was a lot of controversy surrounding his choice to leave four games into the season.

Regarding midseason transfers, head coach Nick Saban says, “There’s certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think If I’d come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he’d have kicked me out of the house.”

Barnett, a five-star recruit from California, started Alabama’s season opener against the University of Southern California before he was pulled in favor of freshman Jalen Hurts. Maybe it’s the timing in which Barnett left rather than the point of him leaving that has upset many supporters of the Crimson Tide. However, since Barnett decided to leave when he did, he will be eligible to play at another FBS program during this time next year if he meets the minimum credits and GPA, and graduates from the junior college he will currently attend.

On the other hand, it seems hypocritical of Coach Saban to criticize players transferring midseason when he left the Miami Dolphins – with three seasons remaining on his contract – in January 2007 to coach at Alabama. His departure was probably most shocking because of the statement he made in December 2006, amid a 6-10 Dolphins season: “I guess I have to say it: I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” Read More

History Repeats Itself: The Protest That Began Over Four Decades Ago

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Photo credit: thenation.com

San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently sparked a protest among NFL players after refusing to stand for the national anthem, stating that he wasn’t “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” During preseason games as well as the season opener, Kaepernick has knelt on the sidelines. Teammate Eric Reid chose to follow suit in kneeling beside Kaepernick in the season opener and some Miami Dolphins players decided to take a knee during their opener as well. However, players from the LA Rams, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs decided to take a different approach, standing while raising gloved fists, the same pose 200-meter gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos enacted during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Smith and Carlos’ gestures occurred during the American national anthem as well, unknowingly leading the way for many protests to come.

Successful entrepreneur and businessman Daymond John suggests, “You will never create anything new. There’ll only be a new delivery and a new market.” The context of this quote is centered around the business industry; however, the same applies for any other subject matter, including the NFL players’ protests. The sports in which the protests have occurred and the stage of the protests may differ, but the reason for the protests and their intended messages are the same – to stand against racial inequality and injustices against people of color. So in a sense, history repeats itself, as well as foreshadows the future.

In a documentary on the 1968 Mexico City games produced for HBO, Tommie Smith says, “We were just human beings who saw the need to bring attention to the inequality in our country… I don’t like the idea of people looking at it as a negative. There was nothing but a raised fist in the air and a bowed head – acknowledging the American flag – not symbolizing a hatred for it.”

According to Time magazine, the Australian, 200-meter silver medalist, Peter Norman, stood with Smith and Carlos wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his support during the medal ceremony. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral in 2006. Read More

A Progressive Triumph: Why News Mediums Stating “First African American” Matters

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Photo credit: complex.com

After Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual, Olympic swimming medal, almost every sports medium emphasized in their headlines or in their social media captions, “first African American.” Many fans commented their discontent about the need to state those three words, making the point that it’s not about race but about American athletes well-representing the United States and winning gold medals for their country.

However, if all Americans acknowledge that there was a time when African Americans weren’t counted as equal citizens like white Americans and afforded the opportunity to participate in certain sports at the highest level, then everyone would understand the need to emphasize “first African American.”

Although this article focuses on the importance of African Americans being recognized as the first to accomplish milestones in their respective sports, the same applies for any other minority group, whether it’s in sports, business, television and film, or many other genres of life. Even though progressions have been made, the struggles for people of color in the aforementioned industries are still quite obvious. If all Americans were afforded equal opportunities and resources since the birth of America, every time anyone accomplished something that previously hadn’t been done, the news caption would likely always read, “first American, first American male or first American female.” The need to specify gender is a topic for another day.  Read More

Former Kingwood Christian Coach to Head Alabama Prep Sports Academy Basketball

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Photo credit: Coach Danny Davis

Former Kingwood Christian School Head Basketball Coach Danny Davis is now the head coach of Alabama Prep Sports Academy men’s basketball. 2016 is the inaugural season for the APSA basketball program.

As the head coach of the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Kingwood, Davis led the Lions to two final fours, four elite eights and four area championships. Davis also served as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Huffman high school, and as the head coach at Smith Middle School where he won a city championship.

However, it’s likely that his experience at the semi-professional level – where he’s currently the assistant coach of the Georgia Stampede women’s team out of Atlanta – and the development of the Southern Basketball Academy are what caught the eye of APSA.

His Southern Basketball Academy assists youth basketball players through training clinics, competitive summer travel and overall development of the game. Through the SBA, Davis says he’s assisted almost 28 student-athletes with obtaining basketball scholarships to play at the collegiate level… a reward he deems as his most notable accomplishment.

Sharing the same goal as the APSA, which is to bridge the gap between academics and athletics, Davis asserts the post-graduate basketball program at the academy is setup to promote improvement and achievement academically, athletically and socially.

“If you’ve graduated high school and your goal is to play college basketball and you aren’t able to because of academics or lack of recruiting, APSA may be the opportunity you’re looking for; if you’ve graduated high school and have received offers to play in college but feel you could’ve earned offers from bigger schools, APSA may be a good fit for you; if you were heavily recruited in high school and have thought about playing professionally after college, APSA could also be a legitimate option for you; transfer students looking to earn additional college credits are also eligible for APSA.”

The Bearcats previously held a tryout with about 15 to 20 players in attendance. However, Davis says he’s still looking to fill the roster. Read More

The First Powerhouse of the WNBA: The Houston Comets

Houston Comets

Photo credit: theuptownlounge.com

Although Women’s History month has concluded, the history that many women have made continues to lives on. When it comes to the sports arena and its powerhouses and dynasties, the discussion is usually one-dimensional, strictly focusing on the men’s side; for example, the team sport of basketball. Although the UCONN women’s basketball team is an exception of this separation – due to its garnering of coverage in part of its dominance – the Huskies are still considered second-class citizens in a male dominated industry. Whether sports fanatics want to admit it or not, UCONN is the greatest basketball dynasty at the collegiate level thus far, in regards to statistics not gender. With his 11th national championship this past season, head coach Geno Auriemma surpassed John Wooden for most titles by any head coach in NCAA basketball.

The Huskies also became the first D1 women’s basketball team to win four consecutive titles, has completed six perfect seasons and nine undefeated seasons. There are many documentaries that tell the stories of great men’s college basketball dynasties: “The Fab Five,” “Running Rebels of UNLV,” “Survive and Advance” and many more. It’ll be interesting to see once the UCONN dominance comes to an end, if there’ll be a special film documenting what that program, its players and its coach have done, not only for women’s basketball, but for the game itself.

Now, let’s move on to the professional level where the discussions of great sports dynasties are limited to the NBA. There are many sports documentaries, films, shows and analysts to educate the current sport generation about the great teams and players that came before this time: Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics won 11 NBA titles during the Red Auerbach era, a series of documentaries covering the LA Lakers, Isaiah Thomas and the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons and Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Furthermore, almost every team has a big three who leads it to winning a championship; for example, in the modern age of the game, the Celtics had Allen, Pierce and Garnett; the Heat had James, Wade and Bosh; and the Spurs have Parker, Duncan and Ginobil. However, it seems as if “they forgot about Dre.” Read More

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