BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As high school football players return to the practice field this week, coaches are talking to them about more than just football.
Unity. This is the message several coaches have been meeting with their teams about this week allowing players to openly talk about how they feel as they all lean on each other during this time.
“There’s nothing like sports to have every race come together, it’s a brotherhood,” said Hoover head coach Josh Niblett.
When it comes to high school football, every coaches goal is to win a state championship, but most agree, winning off the field is now more important than ever. “I told my team, I talked to them about unity and when I talked to them at the end, I said let’s be the example, let’s be the example of how you’re supposed to treat each other,” Niblett added.
At Thompson, Mark Freeman is thankful to have a platform like football to not only learn X’s and O’s, but also life lessons.
“We tell our kids everyday that we love them, we respect them. The respect and love doesn’t have anything to do of anything of human nature it’s got something to do with them being human beings,” said Freeman.
Over at Center Point, George Bates will meet with his team next Tuesday, when they return to practice. His goal is to talk openly about protests and justice.
“Right now, we are coaching some future activists, lawyers, judges, and some who may not do the right thing all the time, so this is a real situation that we can have real dialogue about real life," said Bates.
Bates made a promise Monday to wear a black shirt every day to practice this summer, something he says is helping him express his emotions.
I’m black and I’m proud. I’m a black professional, I’m a black educated man, I’m a black educator, and a black coach. When you see me wearing that, you may see my skin color, but wearing this shirt, everywhere I go, this is what I stand for that there is black men doing the right thing out there," he said.