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Vikings Diversity Coaching Summit Expands Horizons


EAGAN, Minn. — Beyah Rasool's path to this week's third-annual Vikings Diversity Coaching Summit began in 2008 as a coach at Rincon High School in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

That same year …

Jordan Todman was a freshman running back at UConn on his way to an eventual seven-season career in the NFL (which included time on the Vikings practice squad in 2012) that has been followed by coaching.

And …

Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine was in his fourth and final season as the outside linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens before becoming defensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

The three converged in Minnesota this week as Pettine led the third annual Diversity Coaching Summit.

The program was launched upon Pettine's arrival in 2022 as a way to expand career opportunities for coaches through tutelage and give Vikings coaches increased familiarity with candidates who might be considered for a future opportunity.

It was a chance for the coaches to gain information and also provided validation in their approach.

"It's been remarkable. You know, it's been both eye-opening and also validating. You feel like you've been able to learn from some good coaches along your journey," Rasool said. "So, when you're in this building and you're hearing some of the same things that you've learned over the years, it gives you a strong sense of reassurance, confidence to go back to your place and just do it better. You leave with a lot of knowledge, but you also leave with some validation that, 'Hey, maybe I'm on the right path.' "

Rasool coached in high schools for four seasons before transitioning to Pima Community College (2012) and his alma mater of Eastern Arizona College (2014-16). He coached at Missouri (2019-20) as a defensive graduate assistant before joining Arizona (2021-22) and Bowling Green, where he helped the Falcons rack up 17 interceptions.

His mother teaches dance, and his father is an assistant principal at an Arizona high school, so Rasool was drawn to coaching because of its closeness with teaching.

Asked what he loves so much about coaching, his smile broadens.

"The camaraderie, the brotherhood, the relationships," Rasool said. "It's all about serving people; it's a people business. … It's really always been about serving others to help them find their path in life. So, football is just the best way to do that."

Pettine, the son of a longtime successful coach in Pennsylvania, explained he wants to be in "pay-it-forward mode" to show the appreciation he maintains for the way coaches invested in him as he transferred from high school to the NFL in 2002.

The program emphasizes assessments and use of technology. The participants also deliver presentations to Vikings coaches. Rasool's presentation covered how Bowling Green tied for the most takeaways (28) in college football in 2023.

"I was a quality control guy for a bunch of years. I always kind of have a soft spot for guys like that," Pettine said. "And I've always felt like those guys down the road make the best coaches because they've been exposed to everything, had to break down all the film, understand all the positions to break it down."

Working with the 10 participants took Pettine back to receiving guidance from mentors that include Brian Billick, Rex Ryan and Mike Nolan.

"I was very fortunate in my early days with the Ravens. Coach Billick told me, 'We don't need too much help on offense, but our d-line coach Rex Ryan doesn't have anybody working with him.' So I just got thrown in that room with him," Pettine said. "And we hit it off and we're together, had a bunch of great years together. … You want to grow the game. You want to train guys to do it the right way. And you know, I get a little quirky with my OCD sometimes where I'm trying to get them their idea of what's good enough needs to match my idea of what's good enough. So I just think if you're going to do something, do it right. And that's what we try to instill in these guys."

Todman, now at Limestone College in South Carolina, grinned before explaining what he loves about coaching.

"It fills my cup, honestly; it's kind of my calling. I feel like I was kind of born to do it," Todman said. "When you're 7 years old, you have a dream to go to the NFL, which is a tough dream to accomplish. Seven years later, now you almost gotta dream again, right?

"You retire at maybe 28, maybe 30. OK, you've got a whole life ahead of you. I'm blessed to find out early, don't chase the money," Todman added. "I wanted to do what I love doing. So when it's coaching, when it's mentoring, when it's being a servant leader, when it's watching other people chase the same dreams and goals that I had to help them learn from my mistakes or other people's mistakes, it's fulfilling. I kind of get goosebumps talking about it, but that fills my cup. And it's almost like, I'm here for that. Like, God, you know, I feel like [He put] me on the earth to do those type of things."

He said he considers Pettine "like a G.O.A.T." for leading the summit.

"He's ahead of his game, in my opinion," Todman said. "I can certainly say we've all heard the saying before that you can get a lot of things accomplished with three days if you do it the right way.

"It didn't feel rushed to push but like the relationships, the bonds, the chance to present the mock interviews, you get a chance to have a voice and have your personality heard a chance to showcase your ability. Mike did it the right way," Todman added. "The structure is perfect. And the group of candidates that we have in, as well. Great, great coaches, great guys, and it was definitely beneficial. I don't think my voice matters, but I would suggest that every NFL team did something like this."

Pettine is hopeful that last part comes to fruition. So is Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels, who worked with Todman during the summit.

"It's good to see [the summit] is getting the recognition and notoriety that is deserved. And not only from in this building but outside of the building," Daniels said. "I'm receiving text messages from several coaches across the league about how they want to incorporate something like that and how they feel like we're doing it the right way and kind of the pioneers of it.

"It's an unbelievable job Coach Mike Pett' is doing, and he's bringing in some really, really good young talent. That gets me excited about it," Daniels added. "And obviously, when you're talking about the coaching realm, it's important to know who you're hiring, and you never truly want to hire a person you don't know."

As the summit concluded, the participants packed their travel bags with purple Vikings coaching attire and carried with them valuable lessons and experiences they can deploy on the rest of their journeys.

"Be yourself. I think this building has shown me that who you are, and what you believe in is, is good enough. It'll work well for you," Rasool said when asked his biggest takeaway. "Everybody else is already taken, so you might as well just be yourself.

"I think I'll take also just continuing to have humility in what you do. And it's a precious business that we work in. One day and the next could look completely different, as far as where you're working, who you're working with," he added. "I think this building specifically the Vikings have taught me the importance of relationships, the importance of doing it the right way. The Vikings have shown me the importance of serving others will never get old."

2024 Vikings Diversity Coaching Summit Participants

Kyle Washington, Southern Arkansas, Offensive Coordinator

Summit position: Quarterbacks

Robbie Rouse, South Dakota State, Running Backs

Summit position: Running Backs

Jordan Todman, Limestone, Running Backs

Summit position: Special Teams

Donovan Varner, Miami, Analyst (Wide Receivers)

Summit position: Wide Receivers

Whitney Jacobs, Alabama A&M Strength & Conditioning Asst.

Summit position: Strength & Conditioning

Xavier Garcia, Georgia Tech, Analyst (Defensive Line)

Summit position: Defensive Line

Demeitre Brim, Lehigh, Defensive Line

Summit position: Outside Linebackers

Brandon Williams, Austin Peay, Linebackers

Summit position: Inside Linebackers

Shevin Smith, Jr., Nebraska, Graduate Assistant (Defensive Backs)

Summit position: Defensive Backs

Beyah Rasool, Bowling Green, Cornerbacks

Summit position: Defensive Backs