Mentors help shape Harrell

May 28, 2016 Hailey Hrynewich

This Sunday the Storm will celebrate Family Day – Education Celebration at AMALIE Arena. The theme particularly hits home for defensive back James Harrell, who says his high school football coach and dad were two of his biggest inspirations.

Coach Robert Weiner coached Harrell at Plant High School and has known his family for over 25 years through coaching.

“Everyone wants to play for that guy,” Harrell said. “He loves it. He’s passionate about it. It’s great to play for a guy that loves the game as much and probably even more than we do.”

One of the things Harrell liked most about his coach was the special things he implemented that brought the team together and helped them to become a team.

“Our team used to follow the same sayings and different rituals, Harrell said. “When you went there, you felt like a family. It was like a brotherhood.”

Coach Weiner describes James as a great kid with a great heart who really understands how to work through the toughness of football. He says when James was injured for a while, he still came to practice everyday and stuck with it because that’s the kind of guy he is.

Weiner still remembers the first time he watched Harrell get on the field and says it’s something he’ll never forget.

“James was like a lightning bolt,” Weiner said. “We still remember his first run. It was like woah, what just happened there.”

Weiner and Harrell still keep in touch all the time. Harrell calls him with anything and everything he needs help with or advice on. In fact, he just called him the other day.

Another person who not only inspired Harrell to always be the best he can be, but taught him the game from the very start, was his dad. His dad, also James Harrell, played professional football for the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League as well as the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League.

Harrell says his dad introduced football not only to him but to his whole family. Harrell’s younger brother, Anthony Harrell, who played football for the Florida Gators, just got back from camp with the Oakland Raiders.

Harrell said his dad inspired him, his younger brother, and all his cousins who grew up playing football. Every day he would remind them that it doesn’t matter where you start or where you came from.

“Somebody is going to find you,” his dad would say. “If you’re working hard and you’ve got the talent, you will make it.”

Every athlete has someone who has motivated them and inspired them to become great. For James, it was his high school football coach and dad.

This Sunday, the Tampa Bay Storm will host Family Day – Education Celebration at AMALIE Arena. The Storm (0-7) will attempt to get its first win of the season against the the Arizona Rattlers (6-2) starting at 2 p.m.