randy-shannon_web.jpgDespite their less than stellar (7-6) 2008 season, the University of Miami football team is a changed group.

Under the strict leadership of head coach Randy Shannon, the team recognizes not only the importance of winning, but also that the journey toward victory is equally important.

The Hurricanes’ reputation as a bawdy, seemingly out-of-control group is still evolving into one that places a high premium on being disciplined gentlemen worthy of respect, on and off the football field.

Shannon has a unique ability to help his athletes put things into perspective. What he endured as a child helped him learn to do so. His father was murdered when he was just three, and he has lost three siblings to AIDS. One brother stole Shannon’s identity and went to jail for it.

For his accomplishments on and off the field, Shannon will be presented with the Orange Bowl Keith Tribble Trailblazer Award on Friday, May 8. He will receive the honor at the 7th annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Field of Dreams Scholarship Benefit at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.

In its first six years, the event has already contributed more than $300,000 to scholarships that are distributed through organizations such as the Tom Joyner Foundation, The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Florida Memorial University’s Athletic Scholarship Fund and the United Negro College Fund.

Serenading the honorees and guests will be two-time Grammy nominated singer Chrisette Michele. The singer, whose demeanor and voice are far beyond her 23 years, is poised to release her second album, Epiphany. Her debut album, released in 2007, was certified gold.

Prolific hit maker Antonio “L.A.” Reid said of the performer who gave him “goose bumps” after hearing her sing, “When Chrisette Michele enters a room, the room becomes a better place.”

Michele performed at Jazz in the Gardens in 2008 and proceeded to blow the audience away with her powerful,
controlled vocals and experienced stage presence. Fresh off a late-night performance at B.B. King’s in New York on
Tuesday night, April 28, Michele was not available for an interview for this story. Through a spokesman, Michele said that she is looking forward to performing at such a meaningful event.

Shannon’s path to the head of the University of Miami’s football program includes a stint as a four-year letterman and starting outside linebacker on the 1987 national championship team.

The Miami native played high school ball at Miami Norland Senior High in Miami Gardens. His professional career has included playing for the Dallas Cowboys and coaching for both U-M and the Miami Dolphins.

His pre-head coach tenure at U-M included six years as the team’s defensive coordinator. He coached top 10 defenses in five of those six seasons before he was named the 20th head coach in the school’s history in December 2006.

The 43-year old is one of seven black head coaches from among the 119 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Other Field of Dreams honorees include Barrington Irving, the youngest and first black person to pilot a plane around the world solo; State Sen. Christopher L. Smith, founder of The Chris Smith All-star Football Classic;  and Clarence Anthony, former mayor of South Bay.

“The Orange Bowl Committee is dedicated to giving back to the community especially as it pertains to youth academic and athletic programs,” said Lynn Washington, co-chair of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Committee. “We invite the public to join us as we celebrate America’s future leaders, and continue the OBC’s legacy of 75 years of making our community better.”

Photo: Randy Shannon


WHAT: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Field of Dreams Scholarship Benefit

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, May 8

WHERE: Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

COST:  $100, available at www.orangebowl.org

CONTACT: Latoya Williams at 305-341-4728 or lwilliams@orangebowl.org