One of Brent Brennan's goals as San Jose State University's head football coach was to engage the program in as many ways possible.
Spartans fans saw it first hand with spring practices open to the public. Family and friends responded with the best-attended San Jose State Spring Game in CEFCU Stadium in more than 10 years.
There were speaking engagements during the spring throughout the state of California. Besides formal presentations to alumni, fans and local groups, the program's reach through social media platforms set a new precedent at San Jose State. The best example was the April 8 post-practice video of new running backs coach Alonzo Carter reprising his days as the lead backup dancer to world-renowned recording artist MC Hammer viewed more than 14 million times on the internet.
Spartan football also made a concerted effort to integrate itself into the community through the players on the team.
"We had to find a way to engage the community. We had to get players out there with every aspect of what's happening in San Jose. We tried to implement a culture of volunteers on our team," Brennan says.
With the school year concluded, the impressive results added up to more than 350 hours of various community activities by San Jose State's players. There were youth clinics, mentoring and school visits with reading and recreation in mind.
"We want to build a foundation in their lives and mentor them in the right way," says Nate Velichko, a three-year starting offensive lineman from Foster City, California. A nominee for the American Football Coaches Association's annual Good Works team, Velichko organized teammates for regular visits to San Jose's Washington Elementary School, a 10-minute street drive from San Jose State.
"If we want the San Jose community to support us, we need to support them," says the Spartans head coach.
Many San Jose State football players will remain in San Jose because they call San Jose home, are enrolled in summer school or are participating in training activities in preparation for the 2017 season.
If you are interested in members of the San Jose State football program participating in your community activity, please contact Ben Thienes, the Spartans' director of football operations at (408) 924-1290 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the time to engage with the Spartans and you will find them engaging.