Although Baldwin County High alumna McKenzie Bryant is making history as the first female student assistant for the Troy University football team, it's just another day around the sport she loves the …
Although Baldwin County High alumna McKenzie Bryant is making history as the first female student assistant for the Troy University football team, it's just another day around the sport she loves the most.
"I'm no different than any other guy working here, that's how I look at it," Bryant said in a Sept. 15 interview. "If anything, I work harder."
Her work ethic was never more evident than when she attended an interest meeting on campus dressed for a job interview. Not only did she complement the look with a resume and cover letter, but she also brought a dozen letters of recommendation from coaches she had worked under as a football and basketball manager for the Tigers.
"It worked out the way I came because I've only seen one other person from that meeting here," Bryant said. "I came in, I had khakis on, a tucked-in polo and a Baldwin County pullover, then I made a cover letter and resume that had Troy's exact school hex code on them, followed by my 12 letters of recommendation."
That certainly made her stick out and helped her land the job to become a student assistant focusing on inside linebackers, but it's been the pride she takes in her work that has resonated with the whole team. So much so, that head coach Jon Sumrall went on an 80-second soliloquy when asked about Bryant's impact in his Monday morning press conference.
Sumrall's face lit up with a smile before Tropolitan News Editor Emily Mosier could even finish her question and said, "This is the best question of the day."
"If I could get more female student workers to come out that are like McKenzie, I'll take all of them. McKenzie might outwork some of our full-time GA's (graduate assistants), not knocking those guys," Sumrall said Sept. 12. "As I've gotten to know her, she is a rockstar. She is knowledgeable football-wise, she is a relentless worker and she's got a great sense of confidence about her. She is a tremendous addition to our program and brings a lot of value, she takes pride in her work; I cannot say enough good things about her and I'm really grateful she's a part of program. She's a fantastic person and a great worker."
Of course, that was nothing new to those that crossed paths with her in Bay Minette. Still, that didn't dull the excitement of seeing their former football managers on the sideline of a Division I football program.
Bryant said she still has connections with current Baldwin County coaches, including running backs and special teams coach Destin Harris, who couldn't help but get fired up to see Bryant on his TV.
"When Coach Sumrall's interview came out, he (Harris) said I'm having a real 'proud dad' moment," Bryant said. "I called him (after the season-opening Ole Miss game) and he told me, 'Rebecca and I saw you on the sideline and I cried, and I screamed, there's my kid!'"
That was just one of the floods of messages that went her way after some time on the sidelines, but the biggest validations have come from the players and coaches themselves in their welcoming of Bryant into the family atmosphere.
"We were coming out of a team meeting, I met Coach (Tayler) Polk, the inside linebackers coach I work under, and we were walking in the hallway coming into our position room and he said, 'Guys, this is McKenzie,' and immediately, Jordan Stringer – one of our linebackers, a redshirt freshman – he was one of the first people to be like, 'Hey, McKenzie! How are you doing, welcome to Troy,'" Bryant said. "I'm really close with the team; especially my position group in general, they're all a great group of guys. Not only are they great football players but they lead the team so well."
With a major in broadcast journalism and a minor in sports information, Bryant previously had visions of being on ESPN. After a little over a month on the Troy sidelines, her vision may be altering.
"I definitely want to be doing this the next four years, this is my favorite thing about my life," Bryant said. "My dream previously was to work for ESPN, but coaching's kind of tugging at my heart now. I'm just glad I'm a freshman and don't have to make that decision quite yet."