Where Sports and Smarts Collide

fter wrapping a successful stint on the field as a quarterback on Albion College’s football team, Donovan Dooley went on to become a coach at his alma mater. But he noticed in both roles that there was a lack of Black players leading their teams.

So he started Quarterback University in 2011 in an effort to build a quarterback training camp and an educational curriculum for youth from age 7 all the way to the pro level.

His experience on and off the field, along with knowledge he gained from mentors along the way, equipped him with the ability to teach the fundamentals of being a QB. Dooley credits his success to building a strong network. “Make sure your network is better than your net worth,” as Dooley puts it. “Surround yourself with people who do what you do or want to do.”

The curriculum is strict, with “QB report cards” that measure athletes’ performances. They learn that it’s not just about building resilience and quickness on the field, but it’s also about building strong character and leadership skills. Because quarterbacks are essentially the face of a team, players and parents are taught skills such as social media etiquette, representing a business, the pros and cons of playing the position, and what it takes to be a quarterback parent.

“I built a system to teach kids all the way to the pro level the position of a quarterback,” Dooley says. “So we have QB report cards, we do on-the-field training, off-the-field training, we do leadership in terms of the quarterback discipline that you have to have in order to be a quarterback.”


The key to being a great quarterback is knowing how to stay focused on the next play. When the environment doesn’t allow for a streamline of positive thoughts, players must learn how to shut out the hecklers and focus on what’s most important: Winning the game. This skill is one of many character-building lessons instilled in athletes. Dooley coaches players through the highs and lows while also recognizing that while one player may need a kick in the butt, another may need a pat on the back. Players get honest feedback, individualized instruction, solid development and a push toward their goals.

“It takes resilience and tenacity to carry a team on your back,” Dooley says. “When the team wins, the quarterback is the hero, but when there is a loss, all fingers point to the strategy and focus of the quarterback.”

Quarterback University is for athletes committed to learning the game. Participating in the intensive program doesn’t guarantee success as a professional. Those who don’t necessarily want to be pro QBs find that they have a passion to coach others who do. Success is the ultimate goal, no matter what happens when you leave the program.

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