Stephanie Sharpe is bringing NFL experience with her back to Tarleton just in time for the summer offseason.
Sharpe, in her third season with Tarleton as the assistant coach for Athletic Performance, earned a position with the Atlanta Falcons as part of the NFL's Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship and traveled to Georgia for four weeks to take part in the Falcons' Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and rookie minicamp.
Sharpe becomes the second Tarleton coach in as many years to be selected for the NFL's Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, joining former Texan football assistant coach Michael Ghobrial, who worked with the Detroit Lions last summer.
"Scott Pioli, the assistant general manager for the Atlanta Falcons, reached out to me and offered me the opportunity to be the intern strength and conditioning coach during the OTAs," said Sharpe. "It was the time of my life - a dream come true - and a great learning opportunity for myself."
"This fellowship was a great privilege for Coach Sharpe to see an NFL organization function on a day-to-day basis," said Rod Cole, Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Performance. "We appreciate the Atlanta Falcons offering her this opportunity."
Sharpe applied in March and once she received the phone call from Pioli, she was quick to make her way to Atlanta to get right to work. Like she does at Tarleton, Sharpe spent most of her time in the weight room with the players working on building their strength and conditioning.
"The fellowship allows an opportunity for young coaches, usually those in minority, and with a double minority like myself, it gives those young coaches that have the desire to work in the National Football League that opportunity."
Although she was working with professional athletes, there's a lot Sharpe learned and experienced that she believes she can bring back to implement at Tarleton to help the student-athletes here.
"With regards to how the Falcons train, I don't think it's a bad thing to be compared to college athletes and how they train," said Sharpe. "It's a great thing because these guys are coming from a structured organization with how we train guys on the college level. Everything the Falcons do is within an organized program that every aspect is thoroughly designed for both the veteran players all the way down to the rookies."
Sharpe wasn't viewed as just an intern either. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and head strength coach Jesse Ackerman realized what Sharpe brought to the table for the organization and had her involved with all aspects of OTAs and meetings.
"I worked with Coach Ackerman and his two assistants and they allowed me to train and work directly with the players," added Sharpe. "Coach Quinn told me he wanted me to be at all the meetings, every practice, every aspect of the time I was there he wanted me to be completely involved. Even Coach Ackerman would say 'jump in there and coach them' because they trusted me, so that was nice.
"I'm incredibly thankful to Scott Pioli, Coach Quinn and Coach Ackerman of the Falcons for giving me this opportunity to work at the professional level," she added. "I'm also thankful for Coach Cole and Lonn Reisman for allowing me to pursue this dream and make me a better coach to help Tarleton and my professional development for my career."
Tarleton football is set to open the season Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. against Delta State in Stephenville.