Nate Trawick ’20 reached out to student-athletes with digital sessions
BY Josh Chapin, Manager OF EDITORIAL SERVICES
Othello Harris remembers Nate Trawick ’20 as a good student who became an excellent student.
There are certain students, Harris noticed, who would give a head nod or a facial expression during class. When Harris saw that visual cue, he knew his point had been made.
As part of Harris’ African Americans in Sports class, Trawick was one of those students.
“He always came to class prepared to learn, knowing he was going to get something out of that class,” said Harris, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology. “That inspired me.”
It is no surprise to Harris that Trawick is still inspiring people. Now a physical education teacher at Vaile Elementary School in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana, Trawick is also an assistant coach to Richmond High School’s football, wrestling and track and field teams.
When the COVID-19 health crisis closed schools and put many states on lockdown, the former Miami University football student-athlete quickly moved to keep in touch with his student-athletes. What started as a regular Monday Zoom meeting with Richmond’s football linemen soon expanded to motivational sessions on Wednesdays where Trawick invites others, including professional athletes, to speak.
Since the meetings started in March, Trawick has opened up the forum to other topics, giving the student-athletes an outlet to talk about the things happening around them in the world today.
“I thought it would be insensitive of me not to talk about what is going on and to make sure everybody feels comfortable,” Trawick said. “That was the basis of the meeting in the last two weeks and a half with the protests and racial tension. I had a couple of kids talk to me about everything going on. I came up with the idea of doing a Zoom meeting and a vent session, really talk about issues and problems they are having and what they are seeing, things like that.”
Originally made up of student-athletes from Richmond, Trawick has opened the sessions to others in the state of Indiana.
His Zoom meetings have also attracted media attention, including stories from CBS 4 in Indianapolis and the Richmond Palladium-Item newspaper.
On Twitter, Miami football coach Chuck Martin replied to a tweet from Trawick that he was “becoming the great leader that I knew you would!!!”
“I’m really surprised by it, how fast it blew up,” Trawick said. “I wasn’t expecting as much support as I got so quickly. I put a couple of tweets out there, and everybody gravitated toward the tweets. I wasn’t thinking about the exposure. I was really just thinking about getting out and reaching kids who want to join.
“Some of them are shy, and it’s tough for them to talk in a big group. I had professionals who gave me contacts to give to kids if they need to reach out, hotlines and meetings. It’s good for kids to find a space, especially with mental health in that age group.”
Sessions range from 15-40 participants. Trawick asks each person how they are feeling that day and turns the floor over for conversation.
“It’s a non-judgmental zone,” he said. “I try to do the least amount of talking and just hear everybody out.”
A standout three-sport athlete at Richmond High School – he was an all-state football player and a state runner-up in both wrestling and track – Trawick came to Miami on a football scholarship. The defensive lineman helped the RedHawks make history in 2016 on their way to St. Petersburg Bowl as they became the first team in FBS history to start the regular season 0-6 before finishing 6-6.
Richmond has a storied athletic tradition, the birthplace of standouts including PGA Tour golfer Bo Van Pelt, 1963 NFL Rookie of the Year Paul Flatley and Lamar Lundy, a member of the Los Angeles Rams’ famed Fearsome Foursome defensive unit. Richmond native Dominic James, a former Marquette University college basketball star and the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2006, is among those Trawick has asked to talk during his motivational Wednesday Zoom meetings, as are former Miami football stars and current NFL players Doug Costin ’20 and Sam Sloman ’20. Sloman recently was drafted to play for another Miami alumnus, Sean McVay ’08, head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Celebrating its student-athletes, Richmond High School has several photos of notable individuals and teams adorning the walls at Tiernan Center, the school’s athletic facility. Students who see Trawick’s photo on the wall often talk to him to learn more about their coach and educator.
“It’s a neat thing to be back in Richmond and helping out with the community,” Trawick said. “I think a lot of people value my opinion, especially for how young I am. A lot of the kids I interact with, they see my face on the wall, but they don’t know the guy who is in the pictures. It’s kind of cool to have kids coming up and saying hello and getting to know my personality.”
Trawick majored in economics with a minor in marketing. Miami, he said, had a lot of good people and a lot of good mentors – like Harris, who told him, “The work you are putting in will make you a better young man.”
“He really pushed me and motivated me,” Trawick said. “If I ever had an issue or struggled in class, I was able to talk to him.”
He also took what he learned from Harris and applied it to other classrooms.
Harris was walking in front of Upham Hall one day when he was approached by Tammy Kernodle, a professor in the Department of Music. She brought up a student in both of their classes who was using what he learned from Harris to make connections in her class as well.
It was Nate Trawick.
“He was such an interesting guy, such a curious guy,” Harris said. “I was always impressed by him. He wasn’t just interested in Black athletes. He was interested in history. We talked about all these things that shaped the perception of African Americans
“He just had that kind of curiosity and determination. I thought, ‘This is somebody who is going to be OK.’ This is the kind of stuff I’d expect him to do. I’d expect him to use those things to give back to others.”