Christian Swint should proudly wear a “Straight Outta Compton” T-shirt on Monday when he’s honored at the 14th Jim Staunton Champions for Character Awards in Long Beach.
The senior defensive back/running back from Compton High joins a group of fellow athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and media from around Southern California being recognized for embracing six pillars of character: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, citizenship.
As Compton coach Calvin Bryant said, “He’s a coach’s dream. He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s an awesome student, an awesome worker, a three-sport athlete.”
I first met Swint when he was a freshman varsity football starter. Compton would win two games in 2014, two in 2015 and three in 2016. He was also a starter in basketball and a high jumper in track. He kept his grades up and stayed at his neighborhood school, choosing to make a stand rather than flee for “supposedly” a better opportunity.
“I decided to stay,’’ he said. “It was tough going through adversity and the ups and downs. I managed to pull through and be loyal to my school. It was shaky at the beginning. I trusted the process and it turned out good.”
He has football scholarship offers from Arizona, Nevada, Utah State and UC Davis. Compton is 3-1 this season. Swint offers hope for those seeking a better future through success in academics and athletics.
“It’s very exciting to know I’m being looked at by my people and my city,” he said.
Richard Sherman went from honor student at Compton Dominguez to Stanford graduate and all-pro defensive back. DeMar DeRozan went from basketball standout at Compton to USC star and NBA all-star. Swint could be following in their footsteps.
There’s plenty of others being honored.
Brianna Cabrera is a pole vaulter from Chino Don Lugo. She has a 4.08 grade-point average, is senior class president and wants to be a special education teacher. She helps raise guide- dog puppies. She founded the Hearts and Heroes club on campus that pairs special needs kids with other students.
There’s quarterback Steven Comstock from West Covina Northview. He was nominated because, “He shows great respect for his opponents and officials regardless of the results.”
It’s good to see an emphasis on character counts.
National anthem protests
The decision of the Pittsburgh Steelers to stay in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday adds a new dimension to the debate over player protests that could start trickling down to high school coaches and teams this week.
There have been individual protests before, with players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem, but in the City Section, there’s a rule requiring teams to be on the field. It was put in to help make sure games start on time. The punishment is a 15-yard penalty. Teams cannot decline the penalty.
“It’s a school’s responsibility to comply with the rules of the game and section,” said City Section Commissioner John Aguirre.
Several coaches contacted Sunday indicated they had no intention of keeping players in the locker room.
“I’m a high school coach, and at the end of the day, it’s between you and your parents,” said Dorsey’s Charles Mincy, a former NFL player. “We have enough issues right now. I don’t need that.”
Manuel Douglas, the coach at Harbor City Narbonne, said, “That’s about our country’s history and showing respect for our nation and all those who serve. My wife’s in the military.”
The controversy was played out at NFL stadiums on Sunday in the wake of President Trump calling for owners to take action against players not standing for the national anthem.
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said, “People shouldn't have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn't be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn't be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.”
All but one Steelers player stayed in the locker room on Sunday before their game against the Chicago Bears.
Aguirre said the issue will likely be discussed at a previously scheduled Board of Managers meeting on Monday.