Miami Jackson’s Lakatriona “Bernice” Brunson, just two months into her role as the first female head football coach in Florida history, said she has gotten a lot of attention lately.
College coaches have called to congratulate her, and women have blown up her phone as well.
“A lot of women have asked me, ‘Can I come coach with you?’ ” Brunson said.
“I would like to see other women coaching. I think they can do it. There are a lot of ladies who know football inside and out, but they haven’t gotten a chance.”
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Brunson, a physical education teacher at Jackson, has been leading her players through weight-training and conditioning drills since she was hired in February.
But Monday was the first day of spring practice, her initial opportunity to observe her players on the field.
Brunson, who will focus on special teams in addition to her duties as head coach, has 45 kids on the roster, although she hopes that number will grow.
“Jackson has the kids,” Brunson said. “When you have pride in the building, the kids want to be a part of it.
“I’m going out into the hallways and trying to find these big kids who are scared to come out (for football). You will be surprised what you have in the building. The (talent is) here.”
That may be, but the Generals have not won a football state title since 1952 and have lost 12 of the past 13 “Soul Bowls”, its annual rivalry game against the Northwestern Bulls.
The Jackson job came open when former Miami Hurricanes and NFL defensive back Earl Little resigned. Little, who is now the head coach at Miami’s Westminster Christian, went 9-11 in two years at Jackson, including 3-6 last season.
Brunson will rely heavily on her coaching staff.
Luther Campbell, the former lead rapper of 2 Live Crew, will be her defensive coordinator. He has 15 years of experience coaching football, including the past eight at the high-school level at Central, Northwestern and Norland.
Joshua Bush, a former wide receivers coach at Central, will call the offensive plays.
Brunson is a relative novice in terms of coaching boys’ football.
However, she played football for the Miami Fury, a team that competed in the Independent Women’s Football League.
A former lineman, linebacker and fullback, she has also served as an assistant coach in girls’ basketball and a head coach for girls’ flag football, both at Jackson.
“You’ve got to learn from somebody,” Brunson said. “I’ve got a great staff around me. Whatever I don’t know, we pick up on, and we’re good.”
Brunson said the boys on the team respect her.
“The kids hide from me when they see me at school because they know I’m pushing them to class,” Brunson said. “But they come to me when they need something. They are open to talking to me.
“I’m passing out progress reports. I’m doing whatever is needed to let them know they have eyes on them. They have to stay in a straight line.
“Because I’m the first female head coach – I don’t care about that, but they are going to get more attention. I need them to be prepared in the classroom, on the field and when they are out with their friends. All of that counts because they are representing Miami Jackson.”