Since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis, Minn. white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck eventually killing him, the nation has expressed outrage and dismay. It has prompted petitions bringing charges to Chauvin and others, as well as protests breaking out in numerous cities across the country.
Last week, Georgia Tech head football coach Geoff Collins took a stand and became one of the first high-profile coaches to voice out against police brutality and racism in America. Since then, Collins hasn't shied away from the power his platform offers and has continued to speak publicly on the black lives matter movement - even appearing on Atlanta based radio station, 92.9 the Game.
"I thought, we need to find some way, I need to find some way to lend my voice to what's going on in the black community," Collins told media on Tuesday. "It matters to me. Far too long, I've been an internal guy, and thoughts and prayers, and really seeing how I can impact my guys on a daily basis my entire career."
Responsible for up to 125 college football players, Collins has made it a priority to discuss the racial issues and matters with his team. Collins stated he's held several zoom meetings with around 25 student-athletes because it's important to him that his players see everyone's faces and hear everyone's voices.
For Collins, continuously expressing that his heart is for his team and the black community is crucial. He's adamant to let others know that their voice, hopes and future matters.
"The last five nights, there's been a lot of sleepless nights watching the news, watching what's happening on social media," Collins said. "Just reaching out to the leadership groups and individual guys, and just letting them know that I might not be able to fix everything, but I want to play my part and play my role into making this world a better place and to make their experience better."
Aside from his players, Collins also oversees a football staff of different races. With so many people under his care, Collins said he has spoken to his team and coaches on how he can further contribute to making a change.
"The things that are going on right now, it's a humanity issue," Collins said. "If you see the things that are going on in the world, you see the things that happened with George Floyd, and you see Breonna Taylor, there's got to be a humanity piece that goes on. You see that, and as a human, you see that those actions are wrong and you want to be part of the change. I think we've got a lot of young men in this program that want to do that and that want to be a part of that change and the healing process. I told them that I'm committed to that. It's not just the social media posts. It's not just in interview. It's not just a press conference. It's our daily walk that we're going to have whenever we're back together, whenever we're able to be out in the community, what are we going to do to effect social change?"
A native of Decatur, Ga. Collins said he is committed to making Atlanta a better city and a better place. For him, the social issues have extended outside of just work.
"One of my coaches called me the other day having to explain to his six year-old son why the white police officer did that to a black man. What does this mean?" said Collins. "My daughter is four years old and I'm having to have these conversations in a lesser sense than a six year-old, but we're having to have those conversations and it's hard. I've got young black men on my team that have expressed their fear of driving after dark... You can sense and feel pain, anger, fear, all of those things... Your heart goes out because you want them to have the same experience, the same chance and the same safety that my four year-old daughter does."
Being committed to making a change and lending a voice is part of Collin's mission. He wants to continue the narrative to commit change and has reached out to the parents of his players on ways he and his staff can help. Communication has always been a part of Collin's relationship with his team and he wants to utilize that to demonstrate solidarity.
"Whenever we get back together, the conversations have to continue," Collins said. "The people we bring in, whether it be speakers or whether it be hiring people to support our guys, those things have to happen and we're committed to doing that.
"Listening, and hearing, and feeling and a sense for what our guys are going through and what the country is going through, that matters and that's important. We're going to do that and we're going to continue to do that."
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