,A native of Durham, NC, Pierre played football at Appalachian State University where he earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media/Broadcasting and Master's of Arts in Educational Media. He was a member of three National Championship teams, a two-time All-American, and a three-time All-Southern Conference selection. Pierre is the Director of Student-athlete development. Currently, he also serves as a College Football Analyst on ESPN+, where he is the color commentator for Appalachian State Football. He is the co-host/producer of App State Sports weekly, the official podcast of Appalachian State Athletics. In addition to his sports media duties, he is the host of the Afternoon Rush on Classic Hits 100.7 & 99.1 FM WZJS and the host/CEO of Feel Good Radio.
1.Tell me about Pierre, the football player.
Wasn’t the biggest, fastest or strongest. I used my intelligence to be effective on the football field. Studying film, scouting helped me to appear to be moving quickly. Intelligence and toughness were key. Also, being coachable, and listening. I just wanted to be the best version of a football player I could, as well as implement everything my coaches wanted me to do on the field.
How did those skills translate to your career today?
I use the same approach. I understand the importance of utilizing my resources and that’s a part of using your intelligence. I must prepare athletes to be ready after they leave Appalachian State. It is important to assess the student athletes the same way I did the game through studying film and scouting.
2.How does the football player differ from Pierre now, the Director of Student-athlete development?
I’m completely different now. I’m more compassionate and considerate of others. If you approach life with an attitude of helping others, you will find success. You have to love people and understand care about these student athletes. When I was playing football, I only cared about myself as far as achieving goals. I had tunnel vision on completing different task at hand.
3.As a player, did you have this plan of pursuing a career in higher education/student-development?
Not all, I didn’t have a plan. My dream was to play football. I stayed with my brother for a while, just trying to figure things out. I was class away from finishing my Master’s degree. So, I drove to App to inquire about finishing my degree. As, I was walking through campus, I bumped into my old academic advisor. She was in route to a meeting regarding an open advisor position open. I thought about, then realize I should talk to her about applying for the open position. There was a need for student development here. Long story short, I got the position and the rest is history.
4.What are some programs you have implemented to enhance student development at Appalachian State?
We have incorporated Men’s and women’s empowerment seminars. Different workshops for student athletes;
- Black Student-athlete Association( Female student athlete Alumnae panel)
-Financial literacy for athletes.
- After the final whistle (panelist spoke to athletes)
- Voter registration education
- Building the bridge (Mentorship program)
Every semester we strive to incorporate different programs to keep student-athletes engaged and learning new skills. There has been an upside to COVID, it has allowed for more athletes to be engaged, now they are able to attend the live meetings virtually or go back and pull up a panel discussions later. I have received positive feedback from the athletes. So, the limitations due to COVID actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
5.Why do you think athletes struggle with transitioning to life after sports?
They’re not thinking that far ahead. They are so caught in the day-to-day obligations. It’s so much for them to handle. In their mind, they are only thinking, “I have to handle what’s on my plate now”. So, developing resources for them to utilize is critical. At this point now in their lives, I try to just meet them where they are and assist in any way I can.
6.Have you experienced an athlete who really aspired to attain a professional career but things were not transpiring as they thought………what advice to you give that person?
Yes, I have witnessed this at every college I’ve worked for. You don’t want to be a dream killer. I find ways to prepare them for both. They’re professional athletic career, we also work on composing, researching internships, connecting with multiple businesses. I want our athletes set, and ready to go once they graduate from here.
7.How can athletes win at life?
By not giving up. You give up once, then it becomes easier and easier. Sometimes athletes think it should be easy adjusting to life after sports but its not always that way. Things are not going to be easy. Athletes are accustomed to a structured day. Then that time arrives where they are on their own trying to figure it out. No one is present to tell them when and where to be. The days when you trying to establish direction will be tough, but you cannot give up!
8.What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be such a jerk. Life is all about relationships. Be more personable. Appreciate people more.
~ Do you think football made you unapproachable? Not caring about anything else?
Nobody taught me how to love. I was always task driven. My mentality as I have to get this task accomplish. I wasn’t worried about anything else. Nothing was intentional, I just didn’t know. I had to learn social skills. I had to learn compassion and caring about other feelings. Playing football……. I was trained to survive. Every snap I’m preparing for someone to attack me.
9.You have had the opportunity to work with athletes from all sports. What is the common thread they are most concern with when approaching the end of their career?
The fear of the unknown. They are worried about if they will be ready. The pressure of re-identifying themselves is easy to think about. Athletes are concern if they will be ready for what’s next. Think about it……. These athletes have been participating in their sport since 7, 8 years old until 21, 22 years of age. Then once they move on from college it’s time to redirect their energy to something else. This is why student-athlete development resources are critical for most athlete’s growth.