Here’s an inspirational story from The Washington Post to savor along with your Thanksgiving leftovers: Coach Natalie Randolph, an African American believed to be the only woman currently coaching a high school football team in the country, led her Coolidge High School Colts earlier this week to the Turkey Bowl, Washington D.C.’s public school football championship. This was the Colts’ second appearance in the game since 1987 and the first under Coach Randolph.

But Coach Randolph has done much more than improve the on-field stats of these high school athletes. With her focus and discipline in the classroom as an environmental science teacher, she has inspired the players to improve their overall grade point average from 2.75 last fall to 3.0 this season. Under her watchful eyes, one of her starting linebackers improved his GPA from 2.0 to 3.5. “She motivated me to become a better person” he explains. As the Post article, found here, notes, “Coolidge players say that in Randolph they see a uniquely genuine person, someone who is tough when needed (‘no study hall, no practice’) but will cheer louder than anyone when they earn an A”.

The players respect Coach Randolph and want her to see them succeed. “It makes me feel great that we can do this for her and do this for ourselves, to take the first lady to the Turkey Bowl in her second year,” senior wide receiver-defensive back Calvin Brown said. “That’s a great accomplishment. It pays off, the hard work that we put in pays off to the Turkey Bowl.” Although the Coolidge Colts were defeated in the Turkey Bowl by Dunbar, a D.C. football powerhouse, the team knows that the hard work they put in to get there will continue to pay off for them.

Coach Randolph teaches three environmental science classes while coaching the football team, and has seen great results in the classroom as well as on the field. She is a shining example of what GCP has focused on in several previous posts: the good things that happen when the motivation and discipline that boys accept and absorb from coaches is brought into the classroom. (See, “What Teachers Can Learn from Coaches”, 4/8/11, and “What We All Can Learn from Coaches”, 10/18/11) As Coach Randolph demonstrates, teaching and coaching is truly a winning combination.