Franklin natives use their football and faith to inspire the next generation
Franklin natives Darrien Waters and Curtis Steele sweated with a flag football game at Jim Warren Park the weekend before Thanksgiving.
They brought together local friends, families and their past and present mentees for their sixth annual community game, aka the âTurkey Bowlâ and a BBQ. For hours, they played with men and athletes of the same height, as well as with children of ages ranging from college to young adulthood, with the goal of being together and being active.
The game is hosted by Elite Sports Performance & Fitness, a company founded by Waters in 2010 to provide a more affordable and personalized sports training option for residents and those of the Middle Tennessee area.
Today he teamed up with Steele, a childhood friend.
Working as a unit to support others on their athletic journeys feels natural to Waters and Steele. Their personalities and passions shine through in their work as they pass on to others the expertise and skills they have accumulated and honed in high school, college and professional football arenas.
The duo grew up together in the homes of their respective grandmothers in the community of Natchez Street. They even played soccer together from the age of 5 on the Cowboys, Franklin’s local youth football and cheering team.
In high school, while they were still good friends, they were also rivals as running backs on the Franklin High and Centennial High football teams. They debriefed after each game.
Although resources are limited, they both have achieved college football careers. Steele even went to the big leagues.
Waters played at Tennessee Tech University and hoped to play the sport professionally. However, this dream was thwarted by a serious knee injury.
“That’s when I thought it was time for me to start giving back to the community and giving the children in the area an opportunity that I didn’t have,” he said. he declares. “And it was affordable training.”
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Waters also started coaching football in high school and continues to do so today as an assistant coach at Spring Hill High School while also working as a director of construction by day.
Steele also played college football, at the University of Memphis, then moved on to the big leagues. He first played with the Baltimore Ravens and then in the Canadian Football League before returning to the Nashville area, where he coaches and trains.
âThis is my hometown, and there is no such thing,â Steele said. “But we knew how hard it was to come out, so we try to give back.”
âWhen I went to high school and then college, the fees were outrageous,â Waters said. “I would pay $ 300 or $ 400 a month.”
Menting Youth on Life and Faith
At Elite Sports Performance & Fitness, group prices start at $ 20 per person, but can go as low as $ 10 depending on group size. For individual training, fees start at $ 50 but may drop depending on the package purchased.
While being more affordable, they strive to provide more personalized services to each intern. In Water’s words, they train in a “sport and performance specific way for whatever the athlete needs.”
â(In college) I was looking my way and I could see I was training with a 12 year old girl who was playing soccer,â he said. “So the goal of the business was to get a little more personal, to have relationships with clients where they’re not just a number entering our program.”
Steele emphasizes life and faith mentoring, especially for the young people he and Waters reach with their athletic training. The Turkey Bowl is just a way for coaches to reach out, bring kids together for mentoring groups and to listen. Many children also reside and thrive in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Franklin.
Steele emphasizes what he calls the â4G effectâ or the motto âGive, God, Glory and Grindâ.
One of those youngsters is now 21-year-old Tavion Hamilton, who showed up unexpectedly at the Turkey Bowl, asking Steele if the group still had room for him.
Steele said of course. Waters handed him a flag belt and he was in it.
âMy feet were really big and I was small so I was running weird,â Hamilton said. âDarrien taught me to run and run faster. And I used to watch Curtis play college football and then in the league, and they were a motivation.
“So I came here because they supported me, and I need to support them.”
He knows Waters and Steele, who had been friends with his father since the age of 12. Hamilton played football at Independence High School and dropped out of the sport after graduation, but said that because of Waters and Steele he retained the same motivation.
At the end of the Turkey Bowl, Steele brought everyone together. He and other athletes and coaches spoke up, encouraging the kids to listen and learn before heading out for the rest of their Thanksgiving breaks.
“The meaning of the effect (4G) is that every day that you wake up, you glorify God, you praise Him, or you let Him know that you are going to live your life for Him, and you are going to grind your day with Him.” , Steele said.
âYou know, when I was living my job, with football, (God) blessed me, allowed me to play at the highest level. And it’s hard to do. You know, but it’s work hard work and dedication, day in and day out You really had to separate yourself from everyone. “
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