Gridiron Griot: Part II

Last week we checked in with Vivian Chum, the Executive Director of 4th & 1 Football Camp.  You can read the first part of our interview with her here.

Executive Director Vivian Chum on the field in Mt. Pleasant, Texas

The Recollective:  What is the inspiration for the football camps?

Vivian:  Our founder Daron Roberts really had an incredible vision. As a football coach, he saw how he could reach student-athletes and be a mentor to them. He wanted to use sports as a way to reach young student-athletes from his community and to help them in other facets of their lives.

Daron and I were in the same year at Harvard Law School. In fact, we were on the same floor in the same dorm our first year. We are both minorities from small towns in Texas, and we immediately identified with one another at HLS.

When you’re a minority educated in the public school system in small towns in Texas, and you end up at an institution like Harvard, you do get a clear sense that there is a lot of stuff that your classmates picked up as kids that you’ve had to teach yourself later in life.

Coming up with this camp was so natural. Here’s one example of this natural process we went through to build our curriculum: I didn’t pick up on proper dinner etiquette until college. In my home, we use chopsticks. We figured that this was something students should know. It would serve them well. So, we threw in a dinner etiquette class.

Windsor or half Windsor? Texas Camp Director Alfonso Longoria helps the teen athletes get interview-ready

We just thought of everything we wish we had known before going to college, and we threw it into the camp. That is why the camp is so full of practical knowledge from interview skills and networking to how to wear a suit to how to sew on a button that has popped off. I mean, if a button comes loose on your suit jacket five minutes before an important presentation, you’re going to have to put it back on yourself.

The small town communities that we grew up in were relatively isolated. We never had the benefit of SAT or ACT Kaplan Review classes that many of our fellow college classmates had taken. In Mount Pleasant, the closest Kaplan Review course is located two-and-a-half hours away.   What parent has the ability to drive their child two-and-a-half hours each way every week to take a Kaplan Review class? I mean, that’s a total of five hours of driving in a single day. So Daron and I thought, let’s just bring the teachers, the classes, the course review materials, and the practice exams to our student-athletes’ communities. That’s part of the reason why, in the span of just five days, our students take two diagnostic exams under real test-taking conditions. I’m proud to say that a few of our Texas students who have come to our camp every summer since we began it in 2010 will have taken the SAT six times (for free) by the time they sit for the real thing

The Recollective:  How does the 4th and 1 Football Camp differ from other sports related summer camps for teen athletes?

Vivian:  We call 4th and 1 a football camp, because we aim to reach student-athletes by bonding with them through a shared love of football. That’s why football coaches sit in on and even participate in the academics, business, life skills, and yoga classes we offer. And it’s also why you’ll see our SAT and ACT teachers assisting the coaches on the football field. We very deliberately build the connection between excellence in sports and excellence in academics and life.

Camp Director Kaleb Thornhill leads an impromptu “dance workshop” at the Michigan camp

We also recognize that athletics is a source of many important lessons about leadership, competition, determination, practice, and teamwork. In the classroom, we expand on those lessons. For example, just as the students practice and practice on the field so that on game day, they are at their best, we show students that by practicing and practicing on standardized test, they will improve and, on the day they finally sit for the exam, will be at their best.  We also build on the idea of teamwork, because above all, we hope that our students will make a positive impact on their communities. I would be so proud to see our student-athletes come back to their communities one day to make a difference in their own ways.

Here’s a glimpse of the Michigan camp back in 2011.


2 thoughts on “Gridiron Griot: Part II

  1. Pingback: Free camp prepares football players to excel on AND off the field at college | Sportsmanship Blog

  2. Pingback: A (Fantastic) Follow-up on Vivian Chum and her non-profit 4th and 1. « Nick Falkner

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