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Spring 2003
First & Goal
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Dorrell becomes one of only four African-American head coaches in Division I football. But the color of his skin, he says, is less important than what he can accomplish for the university and what his players can do on the field.

“I understand the platform I’m on. Yes, I want to put my best foot forward to hopefully create more opportunities for minority coaches, but that’s not the dominant thing in my mind,” he says. “I want to bring UCLA football to the level where it should be. And if I take care of that business, then everything else will take care of itself.”

UCLA has a rich history of providing opportunities for African-American athletes. From Nobel Laureate Ralph Bunche ’27, LL.B. ’50 and Jackie Robinson ’41 to Kenny Washington ’41, Don Barksdale ’47, Rafer Johnson ’59 and Arthur Ashe ’66, the university has been opening doors and shattering barriers since its inception. “That lineage is inspiring to me,” Dorrell says. “UCLA has always been on the cutting edge of doing things a little differently, ahead of the curve. To be a part of that makes me want to work even harder, like I have something to uphold.”

It keeps coming back to integrity. It is imperative to Dorrell that he build good, solid relationships with his young players, that he helps them to improve both as athletes and as people.

“No matter what you want to do in life, if you are a man of your word, that speaks so highly for who you are,” he says. “The reason I’m where I am today is because of hard work and treating people right, being respectful of others. All those things add up to who I am.

“It’s really about integrity, your own name, putting your stamp out there,” he says. “In the end, that’s all you’ve got.

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