As the first day of two-a-day practices wrapped up in the sweltering August heat three weeks ago, McKinley High School football players were being instructed on how to address their new assistant coach.
Not “That girl.”
It is either “Coach Syrina” or “Coach Richardson,” they were told.
Syrina Richardson, a 5-foot-3 Australian with a 7-foot-3 personality, took the opportunity to formally introduce herself to the players.
“Disrespect me and I’ll run you until you puke. Then I’ll make you do up-downs until you puke,” Richardson said matter-of-factly through her Aussie accent. “And you will never disrespect me again.”
After the players paused a brief moment to absorb that message, they gave a round of applause to the 37-year-old Brisbane native, who is a woman living in the man’s world of football and loving every minute of it.
Richardson is helping coach the McKinley defensive line this season as an intern. After experiencing football on the fringes of the sport for so many years, Richardson finds herself in the pigskin holy of holies.
Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
McKinley High School football, one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country.
“Feels like heaven,” she said after a recent practice.
Her blunt opening message aside, the spunky Richardson isn’t all fire and brimstone. She works her way among the players on the practice field and chats them up casually. She is positive until you give her a reason not to be.