FAMU coach shares words of wisdom

Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.

Area football coaches heard about the impact and influence they have on the lives of the young people they come in contact with from a coach who knows a thing or two about impacting the lives of young people.

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FAMU football coach Joseph Taylor speaks to Gainesville Pop Warner football coaches last Saturday morning at the King Center.

CAITLIN HEALY/Special to the Guardian

Florida A&M University football coach Joe Taylor spoke to a small group of coaches at the King Center last Saturday to discuss with them the importance of being positive role models, espousing Christian values and promoting the value of education.

Taylor's stop in the area was one of several he said he makes during the off season, "wherever there are Rattlers meeting."

He was the guest speaker last Friday night at a gala at the Alachua Woman's Club hosted by the FAMU Alachua County Alumni Association. He began his speech to the coaches after being introduced by local FAMU alumnus Charles Demps, a retired educator.

Taylor said he is constantly telling his coaches they have to be better than the guy next door because they are the ones going into homes telling parents that they are going to take care of their sons when they get to FAMU.

"As coaches, we have to exhibit the kinds of behavior that we want our players to emulate," said Taylor, sporting two of the four huge Black College Football National Championship rings he won during his tenure at Hampton University in Virginia from 1992-2007. He has been the head coach at FAMU since 2008 and has compiled an 18-6 record.

To emphasize his point about the impact coaches have on the lives of young people, Taylor said, "Ministers around the country will tell you that they take a second tier to coaches."

Taylor said everybody wants to be successful, and oftentimes, just need someone to give them a "blueprint" on what it takes to be successful. Taylor used several sayings to get his point across. One of them came when he said, "Treat a man as he is, and he will be. Treat him as he can be, and he will become."

Taylor also talked about the importance of teaching young people the rewards of hard work and doing things the right way. He said too many people today treat young gifted athletes like they have already made it to the big time. He said many people let them slide by without being held accountable.

"That's bad," said Taylor, stressing that young people also need to be taught about morals and character.

He also talked about the role the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has had in his success as a coach. He said he developed a chapter of the organization at a high school in Washington, D.C., when he first began his coaching career, and he said the entire athletic program at the school went from the doldrums to competing for championships. He said the spiritual part of life is important, even in athletics.

He said the Rattlers have FCA sessions every Friday night during the season, and he said only one or two players would share their testimonies when it first began.

"Now, just about every player gives a testimony," he said.

Taylor also said his football team has a gospel choir consisting of 40 to 50 players.

"Only one or two of them can sing, but the rest of them can hum pretty good," Taylor said.

Taylor ended his speech by talking about the importance of a good education.

"No school in the world was built for athletics," Taylor said.

He said he stresses education so much that each administrative assistant he had during his tenures at Hampton and Virginia Union University in Richmond both earned doctorate degrees after only having high school diplomas when they first started working for him.

As he closed, he reminded the coaches of the impact they have on young lives. He asked the coaches to think back to interviews they have seen of famous athletes who talk about the impact a little league coach had in their lives.

"They say, 'If it hadn't been for so-and-so, I don't know where I would be. He showed me love, took time and took care of me. If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I would be today,'" Taylor said.

He said it is unfortunate that those kinds of stories are becoming less common these days as community recreation centers are becoming less common in neighborhoods across the country.

Clarence Kelly, who retired from the Northeast Recreation Center on NE 8th Avenue at the end of 2009, told Taylor he agreed with him.

"I have had an impact on five generations of young people from this community," Kelly said. "A lot of them still tell me how I helped them stay on the right track."

Ryan Nolan, who helps coach a local Tiny-Might Pop Warner football team, said he enjoyed Taylor's speech.

"It was good," Nolan said. "He ought to be a preacher when he gets through coaching."

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