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Coolidge’s Natalie Randolph is in charge on, off the field
Question of the Day
According to Mr. Headen, nine of the 10 seniors on the Coolidge football team who graduated last season went to college.
“We have 20 seniors this year,” Ms. Randolph said. “All of them will apply to college. I want all of them to go. They’re getting used to it, going to study hall, what’s expected of them. Also, our senior class is good. They’re like wannabe nerds.”
Ms. Randolph playfully rolled her eyes.
“I say ‘wannabe,’ because they get one new vocabulary word and they’re like, ‘I’m smart. I’m the smartest.’ And I’m like, ‘O.K., congratulations.’ “
If Ms. Randolph sounds less like an archetypically macho football coach — think Mike Ditka — than a demanding-but-affectionate parent, well, that’s no accident. According to Coolidge running backs coach Torrance Dawkins, her relationship with her players goes well beyond football.
Case in point: Mr. West and fellow former Coolidge player Raynard Ware currently play football at Morehouse. Both remain in regular contact with Ms. Randolph, seeking advice and counsel via phone calls and text messages.
“All of Natalie’s success is team camaraderie,” Mr. Ware said. “Her team is like a family. And she prepared me for school. Football’s good, but she made me think about football not being everything. She’s made a big difference in my life.”
Following a recent practice, Ms. Randolph slouched in a locker room chair, cold and exhausted. Stifling yawns, she conducted a short, on-camera interview in advance of the Turkey Bowl, pausing to make sure one of her players didn’t forget his jacket.
“Coach,” read the message. “I received a math award today. I had the highest grade in class. Since I matured I see everything you were trying to tell me last year.”
For the first time all evening, Ms. Randolph smiled.
“[My players] are my babies,” she said. “They tend to not let me forget that. I don’t mind the nagging, the irritating phone calls, text messages late at night. I’d rather them be doing that than doing something else. They’re my children.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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