Miami Jackson hires first female head football coach in Florida history

Miami Jackson hires first female head football coach in Florida history

Outside The Box

Miami Jackson hires first female head football coach in Florida history


Apparently Bernice from South Beach Tow is headed to a sideline near you … or near most of South Florida.

As first reported on Twitter by reporter Peter Ariz, Miami Jackson appointed Lakatriona Brunson as the school’s next head football coach on Monday. She will be the first female head coach in Florida football history.

After initially saying that a hire was not “official,” the school held a news conference later Monday afternoon to name Brunson as the coach.

In an announcement of similar bombshell impact, the school has also hired Luther Campbell, aka Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew, as the team’s assistant head coach. Ariz later confirmed that the Brunson in question is in fact Bernice from the Tru TV series South Beach Tow.

While Brunson is most well known for her tough girl persona on television, she’s long been a professional female football player as well. Brunson was a defensive end for the Miami Fury of the Independent Women’s Football League for multiple years. Her football exploits have been chronicled in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on multiple occasions. She was a collegiate basketball player at Tennessee State University as well.

Brunson is also a physical education teacher at Jackson, which helps clear one of the main requirements to becoming a coach in the Miami-Dade school district, the Herald reported.

The new coach’s comments in her introductory press conference were quite direct and made clear precisely why she accepted the job.

“Today is historic,” Brunson told assembled media. “We’re here to change the atmosphere at Miami Jackson and get some W’s on the board. I know I’m a woman, but I know that I can do the job here. You all just [wait] around for it…big things are going to happen here.”

“I’m ready for whatever comes my way. I don’t like to lose and I love to win. And anyone that has doubt; has no place around me or around Jackson. I’ve played football for eight years. I can talk the talk and walk the walk. If they want to talk football lets go. If they want to play football, strap up,” Brunson added.

She promised the new atmosphere wasn’t going to be reality TV or music, but just about football. Jackson is coming off a 3-6 season.

If anyone wondered why the Miami Jackson administration would feel confident giving Brunson authority over teenage boys, they need only take a look at this clip from a particularly salty South Beach Tow episode:

As for Campbell, he’s a more well-known commodity in South Florida high school football. The new Miami Jackson assistant coach is the old defensive coordinator at Miami Norland High. His relationship with football in South Florida is a good one, in almost equal measure as his relationship with women in music is seen as exploitative. That makes his new position a particularly unique one, and it would be fascinating to see how the working bond between the two coaches evolved.

Campbell took to Instagram to confirm that he was leaving Norland on Monday afternoon.

He later told The Miami Herald that the school had approached him a month ago but that he wanted Jackson to do something special.

“At first I thought ‘this [expletive] might be crazy because I take football real serious,” Campbell told The Herald. “But after a conversation with her, I said, ‘Naw she knows her football. She’s on point. I don’t take this as a joke. I didn’t want to be a part of no circus.”

Brunson becomes at least the fifth woman head football coach around the nation hired in the last three years. She joins Natalie Randolph, who was hired in 2013 at Coolidge in Washington, D.C.; Brittney Garner at Pickett County (Byrdstown, Tenn.) and Knengi Martin at San Diego High, who were hired in 2014; and Susan Gremillion, who was hired last spring at the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge. Randolph, Martin and Garner each coached one season.

The longest-tenured female varsity football coach is Amy Arnold at Great Hearts-Arete, who finished up her eighth season last fall. The school with 234 high school students played eight-man football but the program has grown that the Arizona Interscholastic Association has asked to school to move to 11-man starting in 2016.  Arnold calls it a “new era in our school’s football program.”

“I watched a documentary a while back about Bill Parcells and Coach Parcells said in his first year of coaching, he almost got himself fired because he was trying to please everyone and run the team in line with what everyone else wanted,” Arnold said Monday. “The season was horrible. He wasn’t happy with how he was coaching and the results. He made a decision going into his second season that he would do things his way and march to the tune of his own drum.

“That really stuck with me as a coach or a football coach. There are more high emotions that surround football than any other sport. When you have a female head coach in a male-dominated sport, the criticism is going to be there. I made it my own policy from day one to do it my way. I would always welcome suggestions and have an open door policy but when the rubber hit the road, I was going to do things my way.”

Arnold said her longevity is because her coaching style – modeled after John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success – is consistent with the school’s values and the parents of her players reference character development, maturity and commitment in the surveys the schools’ students take during the year and at the end of the season.

As for her advice to the newest member of the group, “If you talk to that coach in Florida, you tell her I wish her the best of luck and go get ‘em.”

Regardless of what happens on the field next year, the potential pairing of Bernice and Uncle Luke on the sidelines ensures that Miami Jackson would have eyes on the program from day one. When you’re competing in the shadows of the likes of Miami Central and Booker T. Washington, that’s perhaps a necessary step toward gaining recognition.


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