We recruited international players often at Atlantic Christian, and from all over. Two Africans, Elfatih Eltom from Ethiopia, and Sharhabil Humeida of the Sudan were two of the firsts, along with Tony Barreteau, all great soccer players. They were also fine students, and they spoke the “King’s English” beautifully. Quite impressive to anyone in eastern North Carolina, white or black, myself included. We all listened and learned from these wonderful people.
Another person who impressed me similarly was a football coach at Elon, Leo Barker. Coach Barker is the only Panamanian to play in the National Football League. One of eighteen children, he was an All-Pro linebacker playing with Boomer Eliasason and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. Coach Barker was an impressive man in any number of ways, not the least of which the influence he wielded with our American Black footballers. I talked a number of times with some of our football players about Coach Barker. The comment that
sticks with me most is the player who stressed, “…Coach Leo don’t go for that victimology crap.”
While I had played high school football, there was no college football at the college I went to. When I changed jobs and began work for Elon in 1985, the football team was ranked number one in preseason NAIA picks. I loved that whole scene, and we had some ballplayers. Football players in general, and at this level, were new to me. They were big strong capable men, and as I got to know them I valued their friendship and their ability. John Bradsher, Russell Evans, Jeff Slade, and Gino McCree were close friends and they adopted me in my learning of Elon and college football. I am grateful to these guys, and they opened the door to my knowing a lot of the other players. Often our kids were smaller than Division I players, but they were just as tough and just as skilled as most of the big timers. The receivers and the defensive backs were predominantly Black kids, and for some reason I hold a special place for them and efforts they
rendered. These guys were quick and would “de-cleat,” you. Several years back I wrote a blog article about football and head injuries.

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