RB Warrick Dunn's freshman high school coach encouraged him to follow his dreams
The coach nominated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Warrick Dunn is one of five finalists for the 2001 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award, the NFL announced today.
Coach E.B. "Sid" Edwards of Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was nominated by Dunn and was selected as a finalist for his dedication to high school football. In 1997, Edwards turned the 3-7 Redemptorist High School varsity football team into a 10-2 squad in 1998, 11-2 in 1999, and a 14-1 state runner up in 2000.
"My philosophy about coaching is simple: it's about people, young people at that," said Edwards. "So much is about X's and O's, and granted they are important, but at the level we coach, these young men need much more."
Indeed, when Dunn speaks of his former coach now, five years into the back's illustrious NFL career, he begins with the manner in which Edwards helped to shape him as a man, not a player.
"Coach Edwards made many sacrifices for me, which taught me to do the same for others," said Dunn. "He showed me that you don't need a lot of money to have a happy life and that it is important to be a giver and not always receive. Through his life lessons I've become a better man and have learned the true spirit of giving back. Anytime I have the opportunity to be in a position to help someone Coach Edwards' spirit and influence is right there."
Dunn runs the Homes for the Holidays program, an initiative that helps low-income families in Tampa and Baton Rouge buy homes through a down payment provided by Dunn and works with area sponsors to furnish the homes. He also serves as a spokesperson for the Children's Miracle Network.
"On the field, Coach Edwards gave me the opportunity to play quarterback even though I wasn't sure I was capable," said Dunn, who went on to play quarterback, cornerback and running back at Catholic High School. "He told me the smartest and best player on the field was the quarterback and he knew I could do it. His encouragement and guidance helped me accomplish things I never thought I could. He has the ability to convince anyone to play or do anything at his highest level. Because of that he now is the head coach for both the football and basketball program."
The 2001 finalists and the NFL players who nominated them are:
|Jaime Quinones||Lovington HS||Lovington, NM||LB Brian Urlacher, Chicago|
|William G. Wise||Cathedral HS||Springfield, MA||G Michael Flynn, Baltimore|
|Willie C. McDonald||Glades Central HS||Belle Glade, FL||CB Jimmy Spencer, Denver|
|E.B. "Sid" Edwards||Redemptorist HS||Baton Rouge, LA||RB Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay|
|Marty L. Hochhalter||Carrington HS||Carrington, ND||FB Jim Kleinsasser, Minnesota|
The NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award was initiated in 1995 by NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE and the NFL clubs to honor coaches who profoundly affected the athletic and personal development of NFL players.
"We have more than 1,600 players on our 31 teams this year," said Commissioner Tagliabue, "and the great ones all have at least one thing in common -- they all received outstanding guidance from high school coaches. These men have dedicated their lives to teaching young players how to become leaders both on and off the field. I congratulate our finalists and all high school coaches for the integral roles they play in developing the game of football and guiding the youngsters who play the game."
Each finalist will receive a $2,500 cash award, and a youth/high school football program selected by the coach/nominating player will be presented with $5,000 from the NFL Youth Football Fund, a $100 million fund established by the NFL and NFL Players Association to support youth football initiatives.
The 2001 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year will be announced at the end of the NFL regular season. The winner will be invited to attend Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a guest of the NFL and will receive a total of $5,000 in cash awards. In addition, his designated youth/high school football program will be awarded a $10,000 monetary grant.
Winners are selected by a blue-ribbon committee of sports leaders appointed by the NFL. The panel is comprised of Jon Butler, executive director, Pop Warner Youth Football; Jack Fleischer, veteran sportswriter; Dick Galiette of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association; Chuck Noll, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach; Gerry Rardin, 2000 Coach of the Year winner from Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; Ken Riley, Director of Athletics at Florida A&M; Paul Tagliabue, NFL Commissioner; Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association; Bill Walsh, former San Francisco 49ers coach and current consultant; and Doug Williams, head coach of Grambling State University.