Red Dirt Diaries: OKC Coach Teaches Children More Than Football
OKLAHOMA CITY - Most athletes hardly ever forget their first coach, especially when some of their best advice comes off the field.
Under the lights of Edwards Park the Cobras run through their 25 plays, a tall order for a team that mainly consists of 6-year-olds in their first season of tackle football.
Harlan Jones is the head coach and has been at it awhile.
“I love to teach kids about responsibility, accountability, team work hustle and hard work,” said Coach Jones.
Coach Jones and his assistants don't have sons on the team, but parents like Nisha Washington, a single mother, considers them fathers to her son.
“Nothing like having a coach -he teaches them so much more than football, and his confidence since he's been part of the Cobras has gone through the roof,” said Washington of her son who plays on the team.
Plays may not go like they are drawn up, but Curse words are never uttered, nobody screams at the players, and Harlan's teams win a lot.
Some of his players have gone on to play at OU, OSU, and even the NFL.
“No matter where you at in life you can always be better than you were yesterday,” said Coach Jones.
That motto goes beyond the football field.
For example, if his players aren’t making good grades they don’t play.
Harlan and his staff personally check player grades.
This past weekend when one Cobra member, a starter, didn't make the grade he sat for the playoff semi-finals.
“You can't do anything without education. I’m here more for education than I am football,” said Coach Jones.
It is a reason why parents won't let Harlan retire.
“He’s been a tremendous role model for my son. The way he interacts with the young people, it’s something special to me.”
“If the kids know you care about them they’ll play- they'll play for you,” said Coach Jones.