Congratulations to my son, Brooks Johnson, on signing his National Letter of Intent to accept a four-year athletic scholarship to Coastal Carolina University, an NCAA Division 1 university in Camden, South Carolina.
Here is Brooks on signing day, pictured with Michael Allen, head football coach at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, South Carolina.Thank you Coach Michael Allen! #football #college #education #scholarship #ccu #tealnation @coachallen316 #nextlevelfalcon #lifestyleceo #chantsup Click To Tweet
While Brooks loves sports in general, and, at six feet, six inches (and some change) tall, could probably be a pretty good basketball player, outdoor sports have always appealed to him most. Football and baseball are his favorites.
Here he is at age 5, scoring his first touchdown at a peewee flag football game at the local YMCA. He ran all the way down the field in the wrong direction before finally hearing his coach’s voice instructing him to turn around and take the ball to the other end zone — which he eventually did.
Needless to say, I am very proud of Brooks. But my reason for writing this article is to recognize and thank Coach Allen and the Nation Ford High School 2021 football season coaching staff for all they have done to position him for success.
Coach Allen and his staff came into our lives only a few months before the start of the 2021 football season. In a short period of time, they became so much more than football coaches.
Thank you Coach Allen and Staff
I recognize that athletic skill and talent do not always lead to athletic scholarships. Opportunity is not equally distributed in this country, which makes me all the more grateful that my son is in this position.
Brooks worked hard, and Coach Allen and his team made sure that his efforts on and off the field were noticed by people who matter.
- Brooks’s coaches were tough, but loving. They held him accountable while also encouraging him.
- When he made mistakes, he was corrected and not humiliated.
- Brooks was treated like an individual human being with feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. He was never treated like an athletic machine.
- The coaching staff placed an appropriate emphasis on education. They never compromised academic expectations for touchdowns.
- Coach Allen and his team helped edit and circulate Brooks’s game highlight reels. (For those who don’t know, highlight reels are what scouts and recruiting coordinators use to narrow down the huge field of scholarship candidates. Without solid highlight reels, nothing ever happens.)
- When the season ended, they helped Brooks nurture relationships with college recruiting coordinators, scouts and coaches. (Highlight reels open doors. Relationships seal deals.)
- Brooks worked hard on the field, in his relationships, in the classroom, and in the weight room, and Coach Allen and his team coached him on how to direct those efforts toward success.
All of this happened in the midst of a raging pandemic, when classroom learning turned upside down, and NCAA rule changes and canceled games threatened to snuff out all opportunity for my son. Those factors make this celebration especially sweet.
There are so many people whose positive influence on my son culminated in the realization of this opportunity, including Stephen Black, David Johnson, Anthony Marple, Jamin Elliott, Kamaal McIlwain, Michael Barber, Carson Black, Landyn Backey … there are just too many to name. I am grateful to all of them.
Signing the National Letter of Intent
This short video shows Brooks signing his National Letter of Intent to accept a full four-year athletic scholarship. Not surprisingly, Coach Allen was at his side on signing day. It is Coach Allen’s voice you hear in the background.
I am very touched by our family’s Nation Ford experience. Michael Allen is a fantastic leader, a positive role model, and a kind gentleman. All three of those do not always inhabit a single package.
He’s more than a coach. He is a patriarch who leaves bits and pieces of himself in the lives of every young athlete who has the opportunity to learn from him.
An Elite Privilege
I recently read that the odds of being awarded a Division 1 football scholarship are less than 1%. That means my son is in an elite and privileged class.
I am grateful to the coaches and other athletic leaders who have poured themselves into him over the years.
Congratulations son! I am so proud of you. You are surrounded by people who love and care for you, and who always challenge you to be the very best version of yourself.
You have one helluva start.
Now, get out there and live your best life.