Sports Stars Making A Social Impact: Jordan Campbell is helping to revolutionize education
I grew up in a very poor area in Rubidoux, CA. I witnessed many of my friends get involved with drugs and gangs. Afraid I would fall victim to a similar fate, Colleen and Titus Campbell uprooted their family from that environment and moved to nearby Norco, CA. Combined with the love and support from my family, including Grandfather Ray Collier, I buckled down with school, attached myself to more positive influences like future NFL players Toby and Garth Gerhart, and earned a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. My parents didn’t go to college. I was actually the first in my family to go. By someone investing some time in me, it allowed me to do what I’m doing today.
I had the pleasure to interview Jordan Campbell, of the Cincinnati Bengals. Jordan learned early on that vision and planning were critical to athletes, personally and professionally. The distinction with Jordan is that his concept has dramatically changed the lives of hundreds of kids, thanks to his creating Winner Circle Athletics, a one-of-a-kind charter school and sports training facility catering to middle school age kids with big athletic dreams but need an educated pathway. It’s the first charter school in the country with a focus on athletics. After shattering records at Norco High (four straight CIF championships), Jordan was awarded a full-ride scholarship to USC, which cemented his belief in surrounding himself with winners — a philosophy that set the foundation for Winner Circle Athletics years later. Dismissing criticism of his being too short or not fast enough, Jordan went on to three years as a pro football player in the NFL, playing with the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, and Kansas City Chiefs. It was during his last pro stint in 2014 that he created Winner Circle Athletics, having established a huge following generated from his remarkable series of YouTube training videos. Starting with $5,000 of his own money and eventually using his NFL earnings, he opened a small 4,000 square-foot warehouse in his hometown of Corona, and Winner Circle Athletics was born. His dream, now realized, was to help 7th and 8th grade students prepare for high school, academically and athletically, in a personalized and unique experience. In five short years, Jordan has provided a stimulating college and professional level experience to 7th and 8th graders with resources that are unique. A testament to his vision is that several of his students have already gone pro and some are already getting scholarship offers from Division 1 colleges at 12 and 13 years old, which is unprecedented. Jordan Campbell has learned what some athletes never do — specifically, that you can live out your dreams of the sport you love yet stay connected with the game through mentoring, motivating and educating.
Thank you so much for joining us Jordan! Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
When I was with The Bengals, I arm wrestled a few players on HBO Hard Knocks and one of the guys I wrestled on TV was hall of famer and Super Bowl MVP James Harrison.
Another interesting thing that happened is that I started the company while I was still in the NFL representing and training NFL players. Pete Carroll, my former college coach, signed one of our college players to the NFL the same time the current coach at USC offered a 8th grader a scholarship.
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Focus on being the best student athlete and focus on building a brand while in HS/College so that their business will be set up for life after sports. Focus on finding the athletes true identity outside of just being an athlete. The athletic career will always end but understanding that their brand will take them a lot further in life than the game.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I grew up in a very poor area in Rubidoux, CA. I witnessed many of my friends get involved with drugs and gangs. Afraid I would fall victim to a similar fate, Colleen and Titus Campbell uprooted their family from that environment and moved to nearby Norco, CA.
Combined with the love and support from my family, including Grandfather Ray Collier, I buckled down with school, attached myself to more positive influences like future NFL players Toby and Garth Gerhart, and earned a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. My parents didn’t go to college. I was actually the first in my family to go. By someone investing some time in me, it allowed me to do what I’m doing today.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I opened a 3,000-square-foot facility with $5,000 and it has grown exponentially. Winner Circle Athletics is now 65,000 square feet and a multi-million dollar business with no debt.
My goal is to change as many lives as possible and all it took was one coach to show an interest in me when I was their age. Our program is so successful because we care and we’re hands on. We’re here every day with these kids. Everything we do is based off the experience I went through. Winner Circle Athletics isn’t like every other charter school in the United States. Tuition is $10,000 as to not discourage or segregate students simply based on household income. There are approximately 200 students enrolled (75% male) for everything from football to lacrosse, soccer, field hockey and basketball. Some, like seventh grader Aydin Breland, already have collegiate scholarship offers and interest.
More importantly, all students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
School is Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with tutoring available before or afterward. Optional bible class is offered on Mondays. Students can also take a course called “Beyond Today,” which teaches them how to conduct themselves during interviews, online via social media and more. We have put over 200 students in the top private school in the nation over 2 million worth and another 100+ in college worth 10 million in free college scholarships.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
Education, training, health and mentorship programs
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I’m a product of a similar program and it helped shape me into the man I am today. The last thing I want to do is cut out kids who want this opportunity or need it versus the kid who is privileged and gets anything he or she wants.
Winner Circle Athletics offers student-athletes the collegiate experience at the middle school level and at a fraction of the cost. Besides the 16,000-square-foot academic learning center, there’s a state-of-the-art weight room, recovery room (with hyperbaric chamber and cryotherapy), a 25-by-30 yard turf field, half-court basketball court, on-site chef, cafeteria, nutritionist, juice bar and barbershop. It’s a one-stop shop for a student-athlete. We wanted to take that elite program and offer it to everybody.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
Aydin Breland came here as a lacrosse guy. It’s a new CIF sport the 13-year-old from Corona’s Cavaliers travel team says. But it’s not exactly where the seventh-grader’s athletic focus is now that he’s at the Winners Circle Academy. That’s because he already has a college football scholarship offer from Arizona State. And it will be more than a year-and-a-half before he sees his first high school action. Aydin arrived at Winners Circle as an oversized grade-schooler last year, he carried 185 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. In the time he’s been here, he’s dropped 10 percent of his body fat, gotten his bench press up to 195, his squat to 255, his 40-yard dash time down to 5.25 and his body weight up to 266 pounds. Which is how he got the chance to play — “both guard and tackle,” he says — for Winners Circle’s age group national champion football team. The Corona academy won it all in both the 14- and 12-year-old divisions this fall. What do the other teams say when you break the huddle and roll up to the line of scrimmage? They ask for his birth certificate. When they discover he’s only 13, it’s even harder to believe.
What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Focus on what’s best for you and not on everyone else because everyone else doesn’t understand your process and will try to steer you the wrong way based off their own hidden agendas.
The athlete is always in control of the recruiting process and if the athlete can handle school, training and dominate come game time, they will accomplish more than anyone. In the world of athletics not everyone who says they can help you get recruited is good for you, no coach or trainer will be able to sell you to a university if the athlete doesn’t handle his business.
A college coach’s job is to find talent and it doesn’t matter what HS or college the player attends as long as he or she is producing at a high level they will find you. I went to the NFL from the worst D2 College in America, but because I handled my education, training and produced at a high level, I was able to further my career.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would say that I started a movement with my company — Winner Circle Athletics. We are the #1 school in America for student athletes — not just athletes.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“Focus on doing your job not everyone else’s.” When I went through the recruiting process and even when I started my brand, I kept my head down and worked which allowed me to stack good days on top of great days. I kept my blinders on which allowed me to focus on my job not what everyone else was doing or the negative things people would say.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I would like to meet with Lebron James not because of his athletic impact but of what he has accomplished back in his home town in Ohio. Lebron implemented a similar school system and with him being in LA, I know if we connect we can also make a better/healthier youth in LA
I would also like to meet with Phil Knight from Nike because of his innovation when it came to building a brand that has impacted a culture and will live on forever.
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