May 3, 2010
"The goal of off-season training in college football is to build players' physical strength and mental toughness. However, limiting our efforts only to on-field, goal-oriented results is not enough. Player development should also be about building each player's character." according to Mike Linn, UCLA's Head Athletic Performance Coach."
Coach Linn started the "Man-Maker Wednesdays" program this past off-season in which he, and up to 10 players, most of whom were freshmen, visited a different Team Prime Time After School Program location each Wednesday during the month of March. In addition to putting the TPT students through workouts, the UCLA student-athletes shared their personal stories of success, the importance of setting goals, and the dedication needed to achieve these goals.
The program got off to an amazing start with the visit to Daniel Webster Middle School, highlighted by cornerback Andrew Abbott's incredibly sincere conversation with the kids most-in-need of inspiration, and it worked. Roger, an eighth grader, stood up and declared, "You are my new hero and inspiration!" A statement cheered by all in the classroom.
Highlights from the Emerson MS visit include cornerback Marlon Pollard's enthusiastic training session, safety Dalton Hilliard's discourse on dedication, and quarterback Nick Crissman's reunion with the kids he met during a visit in 2009. Crissman, as good quarterbacks always do, followed up on his visit to Emerson MS by leading a new group of players to Palms MS.
Few will forget lineman Eddie Williams' agility drills, or his discussion of the importance of academics. Nor will people soon forget defensive back Stan McKay's displays of strength as he pumped out dozens of pushups in support of the kids' efforts to conquer the Ladder Drill.
With only the visit to Westside Leadership Magnet to go, UCLA Players and TPT students alike are already looking forward to next year. Andrew Abbott said it best..."I'll most-definitely return, and next time I'm bringing a whole bunch of guys with me. These are great kids and I'm honored to be here."