|NATIONAL TENPINS COACHES ASSOCIATION
With Rod Williamson
Richardson: A Bulldog for Life
Former Alabama A&M Bowler Stays on the Go
Gewel Richardson has things to do and by the way, she’s in a hurry to do them. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in her day to
navigate through the To Do lists on her I-Phone or sticky notes on her journal.
“Lists, lists, lists,” she laments. “If I write something down I want it done and it’s going to happen,” says the former Alabama A&M bowling team
Most of the world slowed down for the Covid-19 pandemic but from the looks of things, Richardson barely broke her stride. She had been
employed as an urban planner in Atlanta when she decided last spring that she was going to run for her county school board. No doubt
residents thought it was a typo when her age was listed as 23.
Richardson has two gears – fast and faster. After graduation from Alabama A&M, she took a position in Atlanta, not far from her hometown.
The work of a city planner demands attention but she took a look at her old school district and didn’t like what she saw.
“The (school board) incumbent had been there since I was in high school,” Richardson says. “He wasn’t fully involved; nothing really improved
in our school district. I was working a job, but I thought, ‘let’s take a break and run.’ When I was running I told teachers I am not an educator, I’
m not here to tell you how to do your job but I am here to make sure you have all the tools you need so you can continue to do a great job. I
believe in education. That’s what I ran on; education is changing.”
Gewel would finish third in the four-person race, narrowly missing the runoff.
Richardson gets her ambition and fast-ticker from her parents, Arnel and Gary Richardson, who were married early but still figured out how to
purchase a home, earn college degrees and own businesses.
“They proved to me that it doesn’t matter what stage you are in life, you can still do your own thing,” Gewel says. “Never stop pushing, do the
things that are non-traditional.”
As if to further prove their point, Arnel and Gary both recently earned their MBA degrees, joining Gewel, who just graduated with a dual Master’
s degree in engineering and science.
“My parents taught me and my sister (Gem, a junior at Alabama State) and brother (Gary, still in high school), to work hard, keep pushing and
never give up. You be the change agent.”
Richardson is proud of her time as a Bulldog bowling captain.
“My experience as a bowler speaks volumes about who I am today,” she says. “The importance of working with a team, the importance of
being comfortable with change (she had three coaches in college). I learned how to network, to step up out of my comfort zone. Bowling taught
me how to prepare, be a representative for something (she was a SAAC representative), be a voice for others.
“I’d never, never take back my experience as a bowler, it transformed who I am today.”
Her last college coach, James Moore, marvels at her energy and accomplishment.
“I was an adjunct professor for one of her classes,” Moore recalls, “and she always sat in the front row and was the first to speak if I asked for
questions. When she found out I coached youth bowling she started recruiting me to become the team’s coach.”
Richardson wouldn’t take no for an answer and eventually Moore became the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Moore says having Richardson as his captain was akin to having an assistant coach.
“She was a student-athlete but she was doing things before I’d even ask,” Moore remembers. “Tasks were done completely. The other kids on
the team fell in line; she helped me transition into NCAA coaching.”
Moore remembers the time when the team missed its connecting flight and was stuck in Atlanta at midnight; Gewel arranged for the hotel van
to haul the hungry team to a nearby Waffle House.
Richardson’s first full-time boss was Daunte Gibbs, now the Director of Community Development at Locust Grove, Ga. He created an
internship for her and then hired her after graduation.
“The first thing I noticed was her confidence,” Gibbs recalls. “She is outgoing, bubbly, very creative. When she’s sure, she’s sure. It’s not
arrogance - it’s a go-getter attitude and the thing that a lot of people don’t have anymore. The thing that makes someone unique. With Gewel
it’s her positive attitude, her intelligence, her self-confidence, her willingness to learn and to surround herself with wise counsel. She’s beyond
her years, an old soul.”
Gewel is back on the job as a city planner in Riverdale, an Atlanta suburb.
“You have to have the heart for planning or you are not going to love it,” Richardson says. “It’s one of the least rewarding jobs; no one ever
knows how they got lights on their streets, they think their commissioner did that when it was the planner that sat through many meetings. I
enjoy it, knowing I helped make that project happen. That is exciting to me.”
For her hustle, Richardson has received leadership awards from both Alabama A&M and Henry County. Right now Gewel is working at not
working, straining to find a proper work-life balance. She finds therapy in cooking and especially baking, realizing that if she’s burning the
candle at both ends she is not able to be the best she can be.
And yet, she recently told Moore that she was planning to get her real estate license.
“Of course she is,” Moore says, shaking his head in admiration and amazement.