St. Margaret’s Head Football Coach Kory Minor was deeply affected by the death of George Floyd. When a colleague and friend, Assistant Football Coach John McGlinn, reached out to him a few days later to see how he was feeling, Coach Minor opened up. Coach McGlinn was moved by what Coach Minor shared, his personal reflections on George Floyd’s death and the impact of systemic racism on him personally throughout his entire life, which he says persists today.
Even with the heights of professional acclaim and success that Coach Minor has achieved in his life and career, the burden of racism is something that is always a part of his life as an African American man. “I experience the personal impact of racism every day. I am aware of it everywhere I go. I can sense when someone feels intimidated by me as a Black man. I’ve experienced racial profiling by the police. I think about it as I travel to work in South Orange County, every day, a locale where not many African Americans live. And, when I come to campus I am always aware that there are not that many others who look like me. And, I still have to worry about getting back home,” Coach Minor said.
After reflecting on their conversation in early June, Coach McGlinn, who is also a parent of a St. Margaret’s senior and Tartans football player, asked Coach Minor if he would want to engage the players in a conversation on the topic of George Floyd’s death, the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement and to share his personal, lived experience.
“I said absolutely. I called the team together and hosted a Zoom meeting in June with our students and their parents. I wanted to do it because I think it is important to share my perspective with my students, and with our community. The call lasted two hours. I shared my story. A parent opened up and shared theirs. The team asked a few questions, and mostly they just listened. My message was very well received. I could tell it brought the racial unrest happening in our country to a personal level for them. Some asked me what they could do.
“The reason I wanted to have this dialogue with my young men is because they will be in positions of leadership and change. I wanted them to understand they can and will have significant impact on injustice in the world.
“I don’t see my role as just coaching football. I am an educator, a mentor to our students, and my vehicle happens to be football. If I can help our young people understand this moment through the lens of someone they know personally and trust, I think that will help them and our community make progress.”
Head of School Will Moseley, who also attended the team meeting, says that the impact of Coach Minor’s voice is powerful for students and adults in the school community, especially as an institution committing itself to equity, inclusion and being actively antiracist.
“There is no doubt the importance of this moment of racial justice reckoning in our nation. It has certainly prompted self-reflection for us in our own aspirations to be a just and equitable school community for everyone, and we have joined our voices with the many proclaiming Black Lives Matter.
“We must all be active in our learning and growth to move our community forward. Kory possesses an extraordinary ability to pull people into this conversation rather than shutting anyone out. He comes to this, as he does everything, with an open heart and a generosity to share his personal experience to affect positive change. He opened up to reveal personal aspects of his life related to his race and in doing so personalized these larger systemic issues that are at the forefront right now. It was very powerful and made an impact.
“It is important when a member of our community shares their lived experience that we meet that moment with equally open hearts to listen, learn and grow. That itself is valuing each person and including everyone in the St. Margaret’s experience. I feel that happening through the sincerity of Kory’s leadership and voice, and we are tremendously grateful for all he contributes to our school community, and certainly to this important work,” Mr. Moseley said.
Shortly after the team conversation in a meeting of the Upper School professional community, Coach Minor also openly shared his feelings and personal experiences with his colleagues, including parenting talks he has had with his children about police and their safety. Upper School Principal Jeneen Graham, who asked Coach Minor to speak, said his personal reflections brought the moment home and stirred an urgency among his colleagues, including herself. “I think we all got a new sense that social justice is not something we can put in a box and discuss or consider when we have the time and space. That is a privilege that not everyone has, and we must each do our part every day to be stewards of a fair and just society, especially in our education and influence on young people,” Dr. Graham said.
The Orange County Register
wrote about Coach Minor’s team meeting (click here to read the story
), as they were also covering a story about few Black and African American head football coaches in the county, one of the most competitive high school football regions in the nation (click here to read this story
). Coach Minor, who according to the Register
, is one of five Black high school coaches in Orange County out of 79 total, said this conversation is happening at the college level, as well as the professional level, too. He says in a sport with a high percentage of Black players, there are too few Black coaches, and that players seek representation in leadership and professional growth, and have more skills and leadership to contribute to the sport. Things have to change at the institutional level to make that happen, he says.
The Orange County Register
story led to another media story with Spectrum News 1 channel where Coach Minor shared his powerful perspective as a part of their news series of reflections on race amplifying the voices of prominent community figures of color throughout Southern California. (Click here to view the video of the Spectrum News 1 story
Coach Minor is a prominent community leader and voice in Southern California and in many arenas throughout the nation. He joined St. Margaret’s football coaching staff in 2017 after a standout career as an NFL linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, and later as an entrepreneur and organizational business consultant in one-on-one coaching, team training and motivational speaking. Born and raised in Inglewood, Calif., he attended college at the University of Notre Dame and was a four-year star defensive linebacker and team captain for the Fighting Irish. He says he was drawn to St. Margaret’s for the opportunity to work with young people. In addition to coaching football, he also agreed to bring his extraordinary leadership skills to head the St. Margaret’s student-athlete leadership program and guide with the student college-athletic recruiting process.
Coach Minor took over the Tartans head football coaching job in early 2018, and takes seriously his role in sharing his voice in mentoring young people as a critical part of his work with all students at St. Margaret’s, and looks for every opportunity to be a guide or a counselor for others, including colleagues.
St. Margaret’s Director of Student Wellness and Athletics Patrick Bendzick said, “Coach Minor’s gift to others, especially as a mentor of young people, is his selfless sharing of who he truly is. On most days, it’s an infectious positive energy that brings a smile to your face and reshapes your perspective on daily life. But the raw emotion he shared in our meeting with our students, and then again with colleagues, profoundly impacted our entire school community. It resulted in a deep reflection for many, and even in one of his most difficult moments, Coach Minor remained true to his personality by selflessly giving to others. It was a powerful message and I am incredibly grateful that he was willing to share it with us.”
In the past year, Coach Minor had Black and African American St. Margaret’s students seeking him out on matters and experiences they have as Black students. The students started meeting with Coach Minor and another colleague regularly. “Students would come to me every day to talk,” he said. “They wanted to talk about their experiences with someone they identified with, and share their issues, or feelings at times of not fitting in. We all need a space and I am glad to be there for them.”
Coach Minor’s work aligns with the school’s goal to create affinity groups, connection opportunities for people who share a common identity, within the community.
“Kory is a game changer for us in terms of equity and inclusion. He is thoroughly dedicated to our school, our community, and our students. Specifically, he understands that different students and families can have vastly different experiences based on their backgrounds and identities. Then he acts accordingly to create a sense of belonging and combat injustice. It’s antiracism in action,” said Director of Equity and Inclusion Victor Cota, who, among many school roles and responsibilities, leads an Equity Team of more than 45 members of the professional community who focus on areas of equity and inclusion work at St. Margaret’s including curriculum, culturally responsive teaching, hiring, and the roll-out of affinity groups. “Specifically, Coach’s work with Black and African American students has paved the way as we create affinity groups for members of our community in the coming years, including colleagues, students and families.”
Coach Minor says while he remains positive that this moment will bring about needed change if the community is willing to continue to talk about it, he also admits feelings of frustration and exhaustion persist after seeing repeated evidence of police violence against Black communities throughout the summer, including the recent video of Jacob Blake being shot by police.
“It’s frustrating. You get tired, and wonder what more do we have to see to prove this injustice,” said Coach Minor. “The more we talk about it, the more we draw attention to it, the more we get people to understand what is going on. That’s what the NBA and other professional athletes are doing. I love sports and I want them to play, but they are using their platform for something bigger. To peacefully protest, shine light and call for change to what is going on. And that is the power of sports. It is a powerful platform in our culture, and it is a unifier like no other.”
In his role, Coach Minor is willing to use his platform as an educator and coach to keep sharing his voice in the conversation and shine a light in a personal way on the experience of racial injustice. Most recently he spoke on the topic with faculty in the Early Childhood School, and invites community members to connect with him for conversation. What does he see as the road forward? “If we are committed to this moment. If we are agreeing that things need to change, then we have to put concrete work together to make something happen. This situation—police brutality, racism—that doesn’t stop by the people being oppressed. We need everyone committed to change. How do we make this work? How do we take this moment and change? Ultimately, it comes down to love. If I can love you, I can see your humanity and learn to respect you.”