Helping his players be the best they can be on the field is a significant part of Bill Clark’s job as the UAB Head Football Coach. Helping the players be the best they can be off the field carries added importance.
“For me, it’s really why I got into being a coach,” Clark said. “It is the difference we can make in these guys' lives, beyond football. The first thing I think of is making them better people.”
It’s important enough for Clark to use character education as one of the six pillars of his UAB football program, along with academics, recruiting, training, coaching and sports medicine. For Clark and his program, character education is equal parts of working to be better people while helping others outside the program.
“We all agree that in order for us to be great, we have to be great at UAB but we also have to be great in our community,” said Timothy Alexander, who Clark hired as the program’s Character Excellence Coach. “UAB football has always been about community service. Coach Clark wants them to be great on the field but great off the field as well.”
The UAB football program, as well as the entire Blazer athletic program, has been extremely visible in the Birmingham community. UAB student-athletes served 3,595 hours of community service during the 2015-16 school year. It marked an increase of 2,036 hours from the 2014-15 school year and was the second consecutive year that the increase was more than 1,100 hours.
Alexander said the UAB football players serve in different roles throughout the community. The focus, though, is partnerships with Children’s Harbor and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham. Members of the UAB football program spend time with the kids at Children’s Harbor twice monthly and were part of a Christmas in July program.
The other major partnership the UAB football program has currently is with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham. Alexander said 120 UAB football players have been paired with kids in the program.
“We are with them two times a month,” Alexander said. “They’ll come to the fieldhouse and we’ll help them with homework. Once they are done with their homework, we’ll take them on the field and play with them. We’ll throw the football and just be a big brother to them.”
Clark said both of the community service opportunities help the players grow as people.
“Part of being better people, being part of our community is giving back,” Clark said.
Another important part of the UAB football program is the once-a-week character education program facilitated by Alexander. The program like the community service piece, is mandatory for the players. Former UAB football players, who are successful in different areas, also come in to talk and teach the players how to succeed after leaving college.
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