I got the opportunity to sit down with Head coach Carlos Smith of Team All-In and talk about his undefeated San Quentin’s Intramural Football team and asked him a few questions. He was also at the San Quentin symposium when some of the San Francisco 49ers came in and shared their perspectives on social justice.
To Coach Smith, coaching football is more than just winning games and championships; it’s about the life lessons and the experiences the players get when they go through seasons being taught by someone who is passionate about growth.
Timothy Hicks: Coach Carlos congratulations for you and your team victory in going undefeated in the Intramural season.
V., stopped All-Madden’s advance.
At the half the Outsiders were up 6-0.
In the second half, All-Madden QB Delvy Adams was slippery and barely eluded the grasp of Chosen lineman Ryan G.
“I enjoy coming in and spending time with you guys, but, it’s that muddy field that’s preventing me from getting the
Carlos Smith: Thanks, man; it means a lot to the guys. We had a great season.
TH: How long have you been coaching?
CS: I started coaching over 20 years ago. I used to coach a Pop Warner team, the Oakland Dynamites. Football was a way for me and my sons to bond. My pops never had me in sports as a kid, so I said to myself that I would do for my kids what wasn’t done for me.
TH: That’s great. That’s a wonderful thing to do for your kids. Being a father is just that — spending that quality time. For you, being a father, then coming to prison and being absent in their lives must have been hard. So, you obviously took up where you left off as a coach. How did that start off for you?
CS: I have been coaching at SQ for the last two years. I started with softball then I transitioned to football. Behind the wall, coaching is a way for me to stay busy, but most of all a way of giving back to show young men how to be mature. It’s about the team element. I was young once. And I know about making bad choices. So that’s why I try to teach the kids a different path.
TH: I can imagine that task of having to deal with young men in prison being challenging, you must have a lot of patience and tolerance?
CS: Yeah, the different personalities, the different beliefs, the different stubbornness of people not wanting to listen. To incorporate my style into them was hard, but I eventually saw a turnaround in the young men once it happened. I learned a lot about myself as a coach, a husband, father, son and sibling. I learned that if I truly apply myself, I can accomplish anything.
TH: You were one of the guys who made it into the symposium when the 49ers came to SQ. What did that mean to you?
CS: When the Niners came up here, it was huge for the community. They spent their time with us. Talking about social justice and other issues like homelessness. I think I became a Niners fan after that. Because they gave us themselves when they didn’t have to — especially them giving away toys. That was huge for the families.
TH: Yeah, that was nice and a blessing. I saw that it was more than just them being professional athletes. It was more than just sports. Those issues they tackled were way off the topic of sports or football. A lot of them spoke on second chances and rehabilitation. Is that your way of coaching too?
CS: I can relate to that rehabilitative style they use. I use it in my coaching too. I say that if they can do it, we can too. With accountability and commitment, we can hold each other accountable on and off the field.
TH: What does rehabilitation in sports mean to you?
CS: Rehabilitation in sports means to me that even though I made poor choices in life, if I apply myself, I can better myself. Through being on a team and being a part of something structural and having a team in place is like having a support system. Being able to rely on your team is being able to have the support of being rehabilitated. That’s why I came up with the name, Team All-In.
TH: What does that mean?
CS: We have a quote for our team. “I’m all in, you all in, we all in! Team ALL IN!