It’s back-to-school for Cecil Shorts III.
“It’s just different, it’s a different route,” said Shorts. “I was a little nervous, I was a little apprehensive like, ‘Are the kids going to like me? Are they going to respect what I have to say?’”
Shorts has been involved in radio and worked with kids since his 2017 retirement from the NFL, but now he’s starting a new venture as a football coach at Second Baptist High School.
“I was just applying online, and I applied to four or five different schools, and I wasn’t expecting to hear anything back right away.”
Shorts got the call from head coach Terry Pirtle at Second Baptist, and was elated. But starting something brand new felt like such a leap of faith.
“I stopped kind of being scared,” said Shorts, “and stepped into my purpose. When the opportunity came, I just took it."
That purpose is inspired by his father, Cecil Shorts Jr, a long-time football coach in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Just watching my father do it for 20 plus years, and the impact he’s had on numerous kids.... I watched him pick up kids at 5 a.m. just to bring them to school, make sure they were lifting and at practice. I grew up as a coach’s son, he had coached me in high school," said Shorts.
It’s his father’s impact off the field that inspired Shorts the most.
“His passion. He loved the game of football and he loved kids. And he put his passion of loving kids and football and put it together in coaching,” said Shorts. “He’s impacted so many different people."
He hopes to emulate his dad’s character, as well as the style of Jerry Sullivan, his receivers coach in Jacksonville.
“He was somebody who understood the game, understood his craft, what he was there to do,” explained Shorts. “He knew his role on the coaching staff.”
Like his dad, Sullivan’s approach to mentoring and coaching has drawn the admiration of Shorts.
“He poured into us as much as he could. He would call us, he would check up on us.”
So how did Cecil Shorts III start his coaching career? In the middle of a pandemic. His first day, wearing a mask and making sure players stayed 6 feet apart, one of his jobs was to give them all hand sanitizer.
“I never thought I would start out by giving hand sanitizer to kids, I know you have to work your way up,” Shorts laughed. “But no, I mean, anything to keep the kids healthy.”
That’s Cecil. Willing to do whatever it takes. His ultimate goal is to be a head coach and an athletic director, and that journey is starting now.
“This is my calling, so I’m excited to get going,” said Shorts. “Enough of me hanging in the background. It’s time to be forward and be the best I can be."