You wouldn't think Alcorn State and NASCAR would have anything in common. But the Davey Whitney Complex was the site for the 3rd annual combine for the Drive for Diversity. The Drive for Diversity program has been around for 14 years, producing drivers like Bubba Wallace, Kyle Larson, and Daniel Suarez.
But you can't have a race without a pit crew. And that's why the Braves worked out: Athletes all with a chance to go pro in a different sport.
"It's an opportunity," Alcorn senior basketball guard James Stokes said. "Doing something that I've never done before, coming from Utica, Mississippi, a small town. Just trying something new. The ab rollout was pretty hard, but I think I did pretty good. I loved it, competing against your fellow classmates, I liked the competition."
Tire changers, fuelmen, and jackmen need speed, agility, and strength, the same drills on display at the combine. Alcorn State softball alum Breanna O'Leary is no stranger to this. "I'm actually right at two years since I did my little mini combine here at Alcorn," O'Leary said. "I'm a tire changer, I'm a independent contractor. So I can race for teams when it's needed, when I need it, when they need help. I still wake up everyday like whoa, I change tires for a living in NASCAR. Who says that?!"
Being the key component to a NASCAR team sets athletes up to make a living. "As a pit crew athlete, you can make anywhere from $80,000 a year to up to $150,000 a year at the top levels of the sport," said Jusan Hamilton, the NASCAR Senior Manager of Racing Operations. "It's definitely a lucrative career. You train like an athlete all week, seen some of our best successes with the program with athletes on pit road."
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