JSU has long existed as one of the state’s leading educators of educators. It’s a reputation the former teacher’s college still owns. Historically, a notable number of students who earn education degrees there are graduates with career goals to teach and coach high school sports.
Here’s the opportunity JSU shouldn’t waste.
Earlier this week, statewide weight-loss program Scale Back Alabama honored four JSU assistant football coaches for their efforts. Those coaches — Jimmy Ogle, Ronnie Letson, Adam Ross and Tommy Joe Whiddon — lost a combined 120 pounds over a 10-week period.
In a Star story Tuesday, Ogle explained the problem that so many coaches face when it comes to healthy lifestyles: They work grueling schedules, travel often and habitually keep late nights. That scenario doesn’t lend itself to eating and exercising properly.
“It’s a lot of long days during the season, and you eat what you can,” Ogle said. “It’s easy to get big, especially for me, because I’m a stress eater.”
JSU’s opportunity is to teach future coaches the importance of monitoring their eating and exercise habits once they join the rat-race of full-time employment. Ogle and his three fellow coaches are ready-made examples.
Granted, college football coaches aren’t overloaded with free time. But how fitting it would be if JSU’s coaches could speak to the university’s education students who have plans to coach.
We can’t help but believe that hearing these men’s stories — how their weight ballooned, and what they did to slim down — would make an impression on these future coaches. For that matter, JSU Athletics Director Warren Koegel could offer his four assistants up as speakers for Calhoun County’s high schools, where they could deliver real-life stories to athletes and coaches here in their back yard.
This year, The Star is examining the statewide epidemic of excess weight and its many medical concerns. Alabama is a fat, unhealthy state. Changing that requires alterations in everything we do: how we eat, how we exercise, what we value, how we shop for food, and what we teach our children about healthy choices. It’s a complex problem.
We lift up these four JSU coaches as positive examples. Their stories should be taken on tour. If they can better their lives, others can, too.