Carolina's football players have been getting a different kind of education the first semester of 2019. One Wednesday a month, they have listened to former Tar Heels give insights to their success on the playing field, in the classroom, in the business world and in managing productive overall lives.
The series is called “Well-Heeled Wednesdays” and through April featured Bucky Brooks, a former receiver and now an NFL media analyst; Brian Simmons, a linebacker who spent a decade in the NFL and later was a pro scout; Andy Dinkin, a businessman in Charlotte; and Alge Crumpler, who played tight end for a decade in the NFL, has done radio work in Atlanta and now is focused on being a full-time dad.
“This series is about providing you with knowledge, and knowledge is our currency,” Senior Associate Athletic Director Dwight Hollier told the players in introducing the concept of “well-heeled.” “With that knowledge, we will grow, we will become wealthy. We're going to be wealthy and prosperous from the knowledge that we gain through this process.”
Brooks reminded the Tar Heels that “Carolina stands for ‘excellence' and ‘class,' that every athletic team on campus is expected to compete for titles and we're expected to do so while exhibiting class.”
He also encouraged them to look at other teams on campus and learn from their success.
“While I was in school from 1989-94, the men and women's basketball team won titles, women's soccer was still in the middle of their dominant run and there were others, including the field hockey team, which captured NCAA titles,” Brooks remembers. “We learned from watching them, and it inspired us to dream big dreams. I wanted to hammer home that championships are possible, if they set that as the standard and worked each day towards accomplishing that goal.”
Dinkin is a commercial real estate agent in Charlotte and also an entrepreneur who launched a company called The SEALS, which manufactures and supplies refrigeration gaskets and other ancillary services. Dinkin told the Tar Heels they will leave Chapel Hill with a valuable network, but it's up to them to put that network to work.
“We've all heard the old adage of, ‘It's not what you know, it's who you know,'” Dinkins told the team. “There's some truth to that. You have to know people of course to connect with them. But what you're really looking for is depth in your relationships. It is always a great day to be a Tar Heel, and that is the rocket fuel that's in your tank. But it's up to you to understand this unique platform you have. The doors won't swing open, you will have to push or pull the doors open through your own efforts to build relationships in the professional world.”
Simmons has remained close to the Tar Heel program in 2017-18 by serving as the analyst to Jones Angell's play-by-play on the Carolina radio broadcasts. He lives in Orlando and coaches high school football.
Simmons told the Tar Heels that his family life growing up in New Bern “was less than ideal,” but he was resolute in coming to Chapel Hill to use his early challenges “as motivation for success and not let it be an excuse.”
He had three goals when he arrived in 1993: graduate, become All-ACC and become All-America.
“But goals are no good if you don't have a plan to get there,” Simmons says. “I told them to respect the process—class, the weight room, practice, no drugs, making good decisions, all those things. It all goes into creating a winning culture.”
Simmons told the team there would be some guys who wouldn't be on board.
“It's your job to make sure they're not welcome and to make them feel uncomfortable,” he told them.
Crumpler spoke to the team the week following the conclusion of spring practice and built his message around the tenets of “dedication, drive and discipline,” and one of the most important questions he asked the players to mull was this: “What kind of work are you willing to put in when the coaches are not looking?”