Coach Griffin Teaches Kids Life Lessons
JNAP employee makes a difference on and off the football field
Sep 26, 2016
By Jonathan Powell
DETROIT — A great leader understands that building a strong team makes top-notch competitors on and off the field. It takes dedication, pride and a willingness to learn to be successful in life.
Just ask Dedrick Griffin, a Team Leader on the Door Line at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) with nearly 22 years’ seniority. He has coached national championship youth football teams and become an outstanding role model for kids.
“I have worked with some great people throughout my career at Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles,” says the UAW Local 7 member, “but my true passion and the stars in my life are the youth. I enjoy every minute that I spend with them as they compete in the game of life.”
Griffin started coaching adolescent youth in 2000 when he was 25. Since then, teaching, motivating and inspiring kids has become his passion and produced an amazing winning record for his teams.
In both the boys 14 and under, and 12 and under categories, his teams won national or state championships in the United Youth Football League in 2014 and 2015. The boys 10 and under team also won a national championship in Florida. And in 2014, all three of his teams reached the championship game at Ford Field.
“Nothing compares to watching a child develop in a sport they love, and you know that you helped them achieve their goal,” says Griffin, who heads Team 41, Department 9150, A Crew, at JNAP. “But when the child comes back and says to you, ‘Thanks Coach, I owe it all to you,’ it’s an awesome feeling!”
In 2014, Griffin started his own youth group, the Detroit Spartans Youth Organization, and he serves as CEO.
“We have over 285 boys and girls within the program and close to 90 volunteers. This is our third year in the league and we are doing some great things for kids in the community,” Griffin says.
He is especially proud that his organization is making a difference in the lives of young black men who are dying at an alarming rate. They need an outlet for success that will help keep them focused and grounded.
“One of the many things that I do with the kids is sharing my life stories and experiences,” Griffin says, “I want them to be able to learn from my mistakes and grow from my accomplishments. I do more than teach sports — I teach life.”
Many of the kids are from single family households managed by women. “Mothers can teach their sons and daughters many things, but you need a man to teach a boy respect for a women and how to be a man,” he says.
Success for Griffin’s teams is defined by more than winning. “It’s great to win, but win or lose, you learn from your mistakes, and that’s how you become a stronger, more viable player,” he says.
Griffin is proud of his boys, but he is equally proud of the young ladies in the Cheer Program headed by Delexie Reynolds. The program that he started in 2014 has grown from about 60 to110 girls since she came on board.
“Our Cheerleaders are off the chart and my hat goes off to Ms. Reynolds. She has done an awesome job in grooming the girls to be the best,” Griffin says.
The girls have won a championship in competitive cheerleading sponsored by the Police Athletic League, and achieved the highest point total in history.
“It’s all about being the best at what you do in life,” Griffin says. “When you genuinely love what you do, you will be good at it and will work hard to stay on top.”
To learn more about the Detroit Spartans Youth Organization, call (313) 282-4671 or (313) 268-3039, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was first published in the August 2016 issue of Jefferson North Assembly’s employee newsletter, What’s the 411?