New firefighter trainer Ezra Hendrickson is part of a small squad that should be bigger


Ken Kimber is encouraged by the hiring of trainer Ezra Hendrickson by the Fire. Few have had more Major League Soccer wins than Hendrickson, and Kimber hopes knowledge of the league will help the Fire.

That’s not the only reason Black Fires fan group Kimber likes the choice of Hendrickson, who is the Fire’s second black head coach. Denis Hamlett was the first.

“Much like a black football fan, it just shows that hard work pays off,” Kimber said. Ezra is one of the most accomplished coaches and overall players in the league. So seeing him actually having an opportunity and then seeing him actually having an opportunity in Chicago is really important in terms of the rich history that the city has in terms of. . . African Americans or people of the Caribbean or African diaspora.

“And just in football terms, it’s the continuation of a rich history of Black engagement with the Fire that we’re all excited for – hopefully not prematurely. Hopefully that’s a sign of great things to come. to come.”

Hendrickson, 49, has been on many great American football teams. He is also part of a small club which should be bigger.

In the 2021 season, there were only two black head coaches in MLS, Robin Fraser at the head of the Colorado Rapids and Wilfried Nancy at the head of CF Montreal. As Kimber has said, Hendrickson – who was born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – had to work hard to get his chance, despite being among the winners at every stage of his career.

During his introductory press conference, Hendrickson revealed that his in-person interview with the Fire was the first he had for a head coaching position. He also said it was “a good thing to have minority leadership in organizations because I think sometimes you are not represented as well as maybe you should be. [be]. ”

“For me if a minority coach can see that as an aspiration, see it as something to look forward to, then it’s great because I think there are some great minority coaches out there,” said Hendrickson. . “So if I can be an inspiration to any of these coaches, it makes me happy and it helps me feel better, you know, to be here now. Because, like I said, having minority leadership in an organization is good for all organizations. ”

MLS seems to have recognized it. On December 7 – following Hendrickson’s arrival in Chicago – the league announced improvements to its minority hiring policy which was first implemented in 2007. Teams must now have at least two non-finalists. white for open athletic positions, and one must be black or African American.

It could help solve a problem Kimber pointed out: the lack of opportunities for black coaches to move up the ranks.

“People don’t have the early opportunity to coach,” said Kimber. “You cannot climb this pyramid.”

Hendrickson did and Kimber can’t wait to see him on the sidelines next season.

“He’s the perfect guy who should have a shot,” Kimber said.


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