For San Jose State running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Alonzo Carter’s 28-year coaching career, it’s always been about using his experiences to benefit and uplift the community he finds himself in.
So when Spartans head coach Brett Brennan challenged his coaching staff to invest in their professional development and come into the 2020 season better than the year before, Carter didn’t have to stray far from the driving force that got him into coaching in the first place.
Hampered by a pandemic that was just starting to infiltrate every sector of society, Carter initially joined a running backs coach group through Zoom to talk ball and hone his craft. While on the call, however, he made a simple observation that would come to alter the course of his entire 2020 offseason: Everyone coached the same position and was Black.
Though always grounded by the adage “be where your feet are,” it got Carter thinking of how he could expand the conversation and bring fellow Black coaches together to help one another develop and advance their coaching careers towards earning jobs as coordinators and head coaches.
And so, the West Coast Zoom Clinic was born in March 2020. Guided by the principles of Listen, Learn and Network, what started as a group of 30 Black college positional coaches soon evolved to more than 600 coaches featuring a who's who speaker line up: Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, longtime Bengals head coach and current Arizona State assistant Marvin Lewis, Penn State head coach James Franklin, Stanford head coach David Shaw, Washington head coach Jimmy Lake, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers, Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliot, among a laundry list of others.
“As a Black coach, you’re often only given one shot as a coordinator or head coach,” Carter said. “The whole goal of these conversations was to learn from guys who had sat in the seat and learn what they did to help us climb the ladder. ‘What did it take to get there and how were they able to maintain their position?’ These were the things we were asking, and it really became a who’s who of sharing information.”
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