Updated: Jan 27, 2019
POSTED BY: MATT HIRST JANUARY 24, 2019
In Texas, football is king. Many of the nation’s top athletic programs and athletes hail from Texas. When looking at the best collegiate and professional rosters nationwide, Texan athletes riddle the ranks far and wide.
Time and time again, prestigious DFW powerhouses like Allen, Highland Park, and Southlake make playoff runs and vie for state titles. The aforementioned districts have some of the best athletic and academic programs around. Despite football being an integral part of life for so many people in the Lone Star State, athletic programs in Texas are not created equal. Football is about more than simply the sport.
Irving has taken this Lone Star State passion and made a program, the Texas Student Athlete Academy (TSAA) that focuses on all aspects of being a student athlete. TSAA is a collaborative Irving and DFW-based effort between Cortney Carter and a group of trainers and coaches that provide third-party football training to schools.
Working with schools in the Irving area, such as Austin Middle School, Johnson Middle School, and Sam Houston Middle School, with one school partnership as far north as Oklahoma City, TSAA aims to establish their position as the go-to third-party training program for Irving ISD. As of the new year, TSAA has worked athletes from Nimitz, MacArthur, and Irving High Schools, and currently invites all Irving middle school football players to train with the academy.
“It was different back in the day when we went to school, where getting information to coaches was hard,” said Coach Cortney Carter. “You really depended on the media to let people know about you and everything was word of mouth. Now, everything is visual and online. So you have a lot of kids who don’t know how to get looked at by schools. They just don’t know. They’re playing the game, they’re going to practice, and then senior year comes and they’re not getting any offers or getting looked at.
“A lot of these kids really get stressed. They’ve been having this structure in their life, waking up, going to workouts, then all of the sudden senior year is over with. Everything’s over and you’re on your own. A lot of them tend to get depressed. They turn to the streets, especially where I’m from in Duncanville on the west side of town.”
The program is there to remind students there are more universities to play football at than just the big top few.
“We’re trying let these kids know that there are 300 schools out here,” Carter said. “You don’t have to go to OU. You don’t have to go to the University of Texas. You can go a lot of places, play and continue your education. Plus, you won’t be out here on the streets with nothing to do.”
TSAA works to offer an atmosphere that incentivizes both educational and athletic success, by setting goals for maintaining good grades, looking at colleges, and being ready for the next step.
Brett Bowers is one of TSAA’s head trainers and was a defensive back at the University of Oklahoma from 2004-2008.
“I’m not just getting [students] ready and developed physically, but mentally as well,” Bowers said. “Driving these kids to success after football. I think that’s the most important thing. Understanding that not everybody is going to make it to the NFL. Not everybody’s going to make it to their sport of choice or to the professional level. You’re going to have to be setup for success and have some kind of plan-of-action.”