University of Central Arkansas coach Nathan Brown is high on character for his team.
That character is built on a strong presence from the community, not only at UCA, but in Conway, as well.
“When you are talking about recruiting young student-athletes into college, it is not hard to recruit a family because a lot of the time, it’s a family decision; when you show them the community, when you show them the University of Central Arkansas and what our football program is about,” he said at Noon Rotary Club on Thursday. “That is not just a testament to our football team, but to Conway itself. We were talking a couple days with our staff that Conway is sort of like small-town, USA. You drive through Conway and you feel how special it is. A lot of that has to do with community members, business owners.”
The character also comes from the culture that comes at UCA.
“The culture and our expectations have not changed over time,” he said. “We have national championships and we have conference championships. I preach to our players daily that they need to be playing more for the name on the front of the jersey than the name on the back of the jersey. If they do that, this culture isn’t going to change.”
To get to those places, Brown said the coaches preach to four main areas, which are academically, socially and spiritually.
“They are student-athletes and student is first there,” he said. “They are not called ‘athletes-student’ because they are here first and foremost for academics. Our goal is to graduate every student-athlete that goes through our program. The second thing is athletics. They came to school, we give them a scholarship and they are here to play football. We’re going to graduate a lot of players, but we are also going to win a lot of football games.
“UCA is known for national championship and that’s what we’re going to bring back. The third thing is socially. How are they socially? Is the community proud to see them walk down the street? We want to treat them how to act right. The fourth thing, I don’t take this lightly, is spiritually. If you have a holistic person, you usually have a holistic football player. If they’re all in when it comes to spirituality, social things, academics and athletics, usually they are going to have a pretty good football players.”
Brown said the players can get there by getting to three areas.
“Those areas are respect, sacrifice and service,” he said. “If our guys will have respect, they will be productive members of our community. If you can sacrifice for your teammate, you can sacrifice for your community. The last thing is service. If we serve one another, we are going to be successful.”
Brown and the coaching staff knows they have the character and talent to achieve a lot of great things.
The Bears will start their season Sept. 1 at the University of Tulsa.