by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier
On Saturdays, one can find as many as 10,000 screaming fans at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC .
Jamar Harp, a 1997 graduate of Langley High School in the West End, sends out his offensive line to do battle. The 32-year-old’s Facebook profile picture indicates that he sometimes revs them up before games.
|UP AND COMING COACH—Pittsburgh native and Langley grad Jamar Harp is pictured with his North Carolina Central University Eagles.
Harp, who attended Duquesne University, is in his first season as offensive line coach and video coordinator at his alma-matter. He comes from the now imploded Broadhead Manor housing project that was noted for its high crime rate and impoverished conditions.
“I didn’t really feel comfortable in (Pittsburgh) or at Duquesne any longer,” said the former New Pittsburgh Courier All-City football honoree. “There was a lot of gang violence and activity during my high school years and by the time I’d gotten to Duquesne, I felt like I needed a change.”
He spent one year at North Carolina A&T, but did not participate in football. After his 2003 graduation from NC Central, another HBCU, Harp moved on to serve as an intern with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in grad school at Grambling in Louisiana and became a graduate assistant with the football team. That’s where he earned his Master’s of Science in Sports Administration in Spring of 2007.
Before he returned to his current position at North Carolina Central, he would be involved with four different organizations, including the Atlanta Falcons as a mobile marketing intern, as well as Howard University and the University of Iowa.
Harp was a doctoral candidate at Iowa and served as a graduate assistant for one year, before leaving due to what he described as “racial discrimination issues,” in which—as a result— he has filed suit against the University.
“There was a topic I did on Afro-Brazilian soccer players in inner-city areas that was too radical for the University of Iowa,” Harp said in an e-mail. “It’s something that I’m currently turning into a non-profit to promote that style (of the game) in, not only the inner-city, but in the Black community as a whole.”
He has proven over his professional career that he is interested in enhancing the lives of young people. One way he’d like to do that is get kids from the Pittsburgh City League to play for him at North Carolina Central.
“There are several scholarships available for both lineman and skill positions,” he added. “We already have kids from the league in our radar. We plan to also, whenever possible, make another trip to Pittsburgh and evaluate some kids that would work great in our system.”
In order to succeed as a Black coach, Harp advises youth that are interested to not be afraid to expand their horizons and to sacrifice and take risks.
“Sometimes in order to be successful, you have to take some steps backwards in order to gain some ground,” Harp said.
For a guy that’s traveled as much as he has, Harp’s advice—inevitably—lines up with his approach.
(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)