Two former Chiefs players join Avila football coaching staff

Posted at 9:15 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 22:30:29-04

Two former Chiefs players are back on the football field. But, this time, they're on the sidelines. 

Former Chiefs Wide Receiver Derrick Alexander and former Defensive Lineman Eric Hicks have joined the Avila football coaching staff. Alexander joined the team in February as a Wide Receivers Coach. Hicks joined in June as a Defensive Line Coach. 

Both decided to be a part of Avila for practically the same reason. 

"It allows me to be around my children who are young in high school and middle school," Hicks said. "It's an opportunity to stay in the area and also go on with the football experience. I had coached in Texas for a while but didn't like being away from them so much."

Staying close to family was also a big motivation for Alexander to join the team as well. 

"I've been living here in Kansas City since I came to the Chiefs in '98," Alexander said. "I've been here for awhile. My family's here. And, I wanted to find something close to home where I didn't have to leave."

The Avila Eagles finished last season with a 3-8 record and could certainly use their wealth of knowledge and expertise on their staff.

Alexander spent 9 seasons in the National Football League - 8 of them with the Chiefs - and has retired with the Chiefs organization. He amassed 417 catches for 6,971 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career. His best season came in 2000 where he caught 78 passes for 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hicks spent 10 seasons with three different franchises including 9 years with the Chiefs. He finished his career with 44.5 sacks, including a career high 14 sacks with Kansas City in 2000.

Avila Head Coach Justin Berna is in his sixth year with the team. He knows that every possible edge he can give his players on and off the field is huge - especially from two former NFL players.

"I think it's huge for the kids just to say I had that there [and to hear Hicks and Alexander] say, 'Hey, I was a first round draft, or I played ten years in the NFL. I went through the same struggles. I know how hard it is.' [It's also helpful for them] to give them realistic goals of this is what you have to do to make it," Coach Berna said.

However, touting their NFL statistics is not their primary focus while a member of the Eagles coaching staff. For Alexander and Hicks, it's inevitably about teaching young adults life skills.

"We always try to get across to these young men here the importance of being a member of society before football," Hicks said. "Football has a lot of parallels between itself and society [and] lessons they can learn. We always tell them, we wanna teach them to be good husbands and fathers when they're done and not just have them say, well I played football."

Alexander feels exactly the same way.

"We talk about character. That's one of our main things. That's one of the motto's," Alexander said. "All of our guys here most likely will be fathers and husbands one day. And, that's what we're trying to teach them - to be men. We try to show them a great example of ourselves."

Avila's first game of the season is their home opener against Graceland on Saturday, August 27 at 11 a.m. Both first year coaches with the Eagles hope their first game is successful and finishes with a win.