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Coach impacts kids on and off the field

Photo by Timothy Ramsey

Coach impacts kids on and off the field
November 09
03:00 2017

If you ask any athlete how important a coach is  they will tell you a good coach can mean the world to them.  For Parkland’s varsity football team, offensive coordinator Derrick Sharp is one of those coaches and much more.

Sharp not only dedicates himself to the success of the players on the field but also is concerned just as much as their success off it.   The Gaffney, S.C., native is a former high school and collegiate athlete himself, so he knows what it takes to get to the next level.

Sharp, a graduate of Mars Hill University, was a four-time All-Conference selection and credits his former coach Steve Brown for giving him a chance to play college football.  He found his way to Winston-Salem with his wife because of mutual friends that lived in the area.

He has coached on the Pop Warner level of youth football but has been coaching at the high school level for a few years and says he really enjoys it.

“Football has always been a part of me and I have a social work degree so I initially worked in juvenile detention but after a particular incident, I decided I wanted to get out in front of the young men to help them just like someone helped me,” said Sharpe.  “When I moved to Winston, I met Lamont Scales and Melvin Palmer, who were coaching at Carver at the time, and they gave me a chance to coach high school football.”

“They invited me to some camps while I was coaching with the Winston-Salem Greyhounds midget team,” he continued.  “In 2010 they said, ‘Hey man why don’t you come join our staff?’ and what a blessing that was for me.”

He left Carver after the 2013 season and joined the staff at Parkland and became the offensive coordinator.  He says he is really passionate about the game of football and is aware of where it could take a young man that has the talent and gives 100 percent.

“I’m passionate about the game of football because I know what it has done for me,” Sharp said.  “And through football I want to help young men become better men, if that makes sense.  Football is a sport where you have to have discipline, you have to have focus, and the other two things I try to instill is integrity and character.

“Those things are important particularly in education and the business world,” he said. “I try to use that as a tool to connect with the young people.”

Sharp is one of the few coaches who does not work at the school where he coaches.  He is a supervisor with the Bud Group, but says coaching the young men at Parkland is his escape.

“Our young people are our future, and if I can use football as the tool, vehicle or carrot to dangle in front of them and have a common ground to build relationships on, I feel like that’s why I am here,” he went on to say.  “This is how I reach them because we all have something in common and I like to make sure they are staying focused on what the ultimate goal is.”

Ameer Watkins, Parkland quarterback coach, came to the staff the same year as Sharp.  He says Sharp has a way to connect with every kid on the team individually.

“The biggest thing for me is how he is able to address each kid in his own unique fashion that fits them on their level so he kind of has the hearts and minds of these young men,” Watkins said.  “I have been there for three years along with him and his impact is kind of like a father-son relationship with many of the kids.”

“He is the type who likes to make sure your grades are correct and talks to you about life obstacles and how it relates to football instead of football obstacles and how it relates to life,” Watkins continued. 

For Sharp he says he really enjoys when he runs into old players he has coached throughout his 18 years and see they are doing well.  He says that is a very satisfying feeling because he knows he had a part in that.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard to gauge the impact you have had on a kid,” he said.  “This coaching thing was fun for me but now it has become a passion of mine.  The best thing for me is to build strong relationship with these young men.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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