Legendary Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant will be always revered for the life-long lessons he instilled in his players.
Bryant emphasized the importance of self-discipline, character and responsibility and how these attributes learned on the practice and playing field translated to building the leaders of tomorrow. Those important lessons were not lost on former Alabama standout Dr. E. Gaylon McCollough.
Dr. McCollough, the starting center and Academic All-American on Bryant’s 1964 national championship team, readily plays his part in developing the leaders of tomorrow. An important portion of his efforts came to fruition last fall with the establishment of life-after-sports-center on the University of Alabama campus. The initiative will touch thousands of student-athletes in the future.
Last fall, the University of Alabama dedicated the Susan & Gaylon McCollough A-Club Career and Leadership Development Center, strategically located in the Battle Academic Center at Bryant Hall on the campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The program will serve both current and former student-athletes.
“Coach Bryant always emphasized the importance and responsibility of giving back,” said Dr. McCollough. “Susan and I met at The University of Alabama. We were married there and received our degrees from there. We wanted to do something to express our appreciation to how it prepared us for the world after college. We are honored that the University has allowed us the opportunity give back in this manner and excited for the impact it will have on the lives of student-athletes in the future.”
The state-of-art facility will assist student athletes in choosing careers and developing the knowledge and skills needed to excel in post-graduate life. The Center will be staffed by a full-time career services professional and feature a mock interview room to help student-athletes prepare for job interviews.
Dr. McCollough and his wife Susan have been long-time supporters of the United States Sports Academy with Dr. McCollough serving on the institution’s Board of Visitors and Susan serving on the Academy’s Art Committee.
“Susan and I are honored to have been involved with the United States Sports Academy for several years,” said McCollough. “Dr. (Thomas P.) Rosandich has always been a great advocate for the importance of sport. His impact on sports—and sport art—on the world stage will be long lasting.”
By partnering with the A-Club, Dr. McCollough says it allowed for the facility to house a full-time career development specialist to provide hands on assistance to student-athletes in their career development. McCollough, an avid writer, donated the proceeds of his books, 11 in number, for the formation of the center.
Dr. McCollough is the author of “The Long Shadow of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant,” which is an up close and personal look at the patriarch of the Alabama Football Family. He has visited the Sports Academy on numerous occasions for presentations and book signings.
The initial concept of the Career and Leadership Development Center originated in the 1980s when McCollough and four other former Alabama players met and formed the 1st & 10 Club. Thirty five years ago, the players identified a need to help current student-athletes in choosing meaningful career paths.
In response to the need, the club sponsored an annual career day, which usually featured 100 business professionals from several different fields. The student-athletes rotated through group sessions and interacted with as many different professionals in various career fields as possible.
However, now with the creation of the Career and Leadership Development Center, student-athletes have a permanent facility and a direct point of contact where they can routinely work to enhance and reach their career goals. “It has taken three and a half decades to make the dream of an on-site center, staffed by a full time career counselor come to fruition,” McCollough said.
The McCollough’s live in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where Dr. McCollough operates the McCollough Plastic Surgery Clinic. He is world renown as a facial and nasal plastic surgeon and is listed among the “Best Doctors In America”, “America’s Top Plastic Surgeons” and in the National Registry of Who’s Who in America. He has served as president of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and is a founding member of the Bryant-Jordan Scholar Athlete Foundation.
His wife, Susan, who was Miss Alabama in 1962, and emeritus member of the USSA Art Committee, operates the 3,500 square feet Susan N. McCollough Art Gallery/ Studio which features an array of oil and acrylic paintings, drawings, charcoal and ink drawings, and mixed media.
In 2014, the couple celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. They have two married children (Stedmann and Chanee) and four grandchildren.