San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Wednesday announced an initiative to build police-community relations with the help of the UTSA football team.
Taylor said at a City Hall news conference that police officers will begin to share with children “thousands” of trading cards featuring Roadrunners football players.
Each card can then be traded for two tickets to a UTSA football game.
“I believe this will make champions out of everyone involved,” Taylor said.
First-year UTSA coach Frank Wilson said he was honored to be asked to speak at the news conference.
“It was monumental,” Wilson said. “It’s not good enough just to (live) in our city (and work) at our city university, and not be a part of the solution, the resolution to help us as a country, as a city, get beyond some of the things that are out there right now.
“As we equip our young men to go out into society, I think it’s critical that we partner with our city officials, with our police department, in bettering our city as a whole.”
The cards feature UTSA seniors Jarveon Williams and Michael Egwuagu and juniors Juan Perez-Isidoro and Marcus Davenport. All four are starters for the Roadrunners.
Williams, from Judson, and Davenport, from Stevens, attended high school in the San Antonio area.
Perez-Isidoro attended Krueger Middle School in the North East Independent School District for a year and a half before moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he attended Birdville High School.
Egwuagu, from Austin, went to high school at Pflugerville Connally.
Wilson thanked city officials and members of the police force, including chief William McManus, for their service to the community.
Addressing the media, Wilson said, “What an awesome responsibility to govern, to protect and to serve 1.4 million people, the seventh largest city in this country. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for an open heart and a listening ear, as our country deals with some issues right now.”
Protests have raged in response to recent incidents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, with police killings of African-American citizens. Wilson is a 42-year-old African-American, a native of New Orleans.
“Growing up in inner-city New Orleans, being the murder capital of the world, we had a real issue when I was a youth, of police in community,” Wilson said. “One of the things we did, we started a program, a night out against crime, and we did trading cards and we did things with our police department, to try to foster a better relationship. It worked tremendously. Things got better. I had an opportunity to be an educator and work in the (New Orleans) community, and I just saw all the good in it.”
The idea was hatched in a meeting between Brad Parrott, a UTSA senior associate athletic director, and Wilson.
“It was really a function of Brad and Frank working together,” UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said. “Brad had the same experience when he was working in St. Louis. He had seen a similar thing done (with the trading cards), and I think Brad and Frank had a conversation.
“Brad suggested it, and Frank said, ‘I’ve seen it work,’ so it was the two of them putting this plan together and then Brad implementing it with the city.”