The Story of TMI Project’s Partnership with Coach Jeramie Collins
After Tony Porter of A Call to Men and I decided we wanted to work with high school football players and document the process, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Jeramie Collins coach of the Kingston High School football team was the man to turn to.
TMI Project storytellers had shared the stage with Coach Collins’ football players at a One Billion Rising event in Kingston two years earlier where TMI Project storytellers relayed personal stories about surviving domestic violence and Coach Collins’ players were recognized for their commitment to standing up against violence against women. This was the first time I had heard of a football coach getting his team involved in social justice and activism.
The following year, Tony presented at Ulster County Community College for Domestic Violence Awareness Day where I sat in the front row. I looked across the aisle and, there he was again. Coach Collins with a few of his football players were listening to Tony talk about the cultural expectations of masculinity. I was impressed. Not only did the coach get his players to attend, he also encouraged them to participate. He was clearly dedicated to shaping these boys into great young men.
I asked Coach Collins to partner with TMI Project and A Call to Men. He was on board without hesitation from the moment I posed the idea. Within 24 hours he had approval from the school’s principal and buy-in from the other coaches.
As you can imagine, getting a bunch of teen boys to share their emotional “TMI” stories has some inherent challenges. But Coach Collins doesn’t give up. He keeps encouraging his students to show up and he always models emotional courage. He’s shared his own stories in every workshop, performed alongside his students, and he let all 60 players know that he tends to cry easily and there’s nothing wrong with that. TMI Project is honored to recognize Coach Jeramie Collins for being a powerful example, and for always encouraging young men to bravely share their stories and have the courage to speak up in the face of violence against girls and women.
TMI Project is honoring Coach Collins, along with activist Tony Porter and three other Hudson Valley leaders and change-makers, on September 28th, 2017 at Voices in Action: Community Outreach Showcase & Fundraiser. We hope you will join us!