12/24/09 — Challenge awaits James at Livingstone College

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Challenge awaits James at Livingstone College

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 24, 2009 9:47 AM

SALISBURY -- Revive the spirit.

Instill self belief.

Develop a winner.

Elvin James contends he can do those things as head football coach at tiny Livingstone College. A Beaufort native, James was recently named the 33rd head coach in Blue Bears history after serving as an assistant athletics director at Elizabeth City State University.

"The biggest challenge is just changing the attitude of the kids and get them to believe they can win," said James. "I truly feel the potential is there and the spirit is there, but when you've been down for so many years, it's like here we go again (when a loss happens).

"I want to bring the spirit and excitement that was prevalent in the late 90s back to the Livingstone football program."

The Blue Bears finished 0-10 in 2009 and have emerged victorious in just three contests overall since 2007. Livingstone last won Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships in 1997 and 1998 -- the only two titles in program history.

James hasn't evaluated the program.

Nor has he met the players. The former Goldsboro High football coach will plan individual meetings with each current team member and said that all 22 positions are open.

"They have to buy into my system," said James. "I want them to understand this is their program. I don't care what happened yesterday. That's over. Show me what you can do. We're going to have some fun, too, but it's time to go to work.

"I want to bring in kids who are competitive and will push the other kids on campus for positions."

During three coaching stints at Goldsboro, James compiled a 79-69-1 record that included two Mideastern 4-A Conference crowns in 1994 and 1995, and nine trips to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. He was an assistant on staff during 2002 when the Cougars advanced to the eastern 3-A regional final.

James has served in different capacities at CIAA member Elizabeth City State, Edenton Holmes, Washington & Lee (Va.) HS and North Caroline (Md.) HS. However, wins and losses aren't his top priority.

"I believe that students have the potential to do anything they want through faith," said James. "I believe in taking ordinary people and getting them to do extraordinary things. I'm a firm believer in the concept of the student-athlete.

"My first priority for my student-athletes is to have them graduate. Second, I want them to play good football. Third, I want them to fully enjoy their college experience."

Then the spirit, self-belief and winning attitude James promised will return.