Ex-NFL player hopes to improve leadership & communication through TCU Toastmasters

TCU alumnus Cedric James spent six seasons in the NFL before turning his attention to public speaking.

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Former TCU football player Cedric James is the president of TCU Toastmasters, an organization devoted to public speaking training. (Photo courtesy of tcuideafactory.org)

Former TCU football player Cedric James is the president of TCU Toastmasters, an organization devoted to public speaking training. (Photo courtesy of tcuideafactory.org)

What does a former professional football player and Super Bowl champion have to be afraid of?

TCU Toastmasters president Cedric James wants to share the story of his long-standing battle with fear of public speaking and reach out to the TCU community by helping to improve its communication and leadership skills.

Established in 1999, TCU Toastmasters meets every Wednesday at noon in the third floor chambers of the BLUU, and is open to anyone wanting to improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

“It’s so fulfilling for me and the club,” James said. “We’re helping people.”

The club is a part of Toastmasters International, an international organization founded in 1924 with more than 290,000 members nationwide, according to theits website.

While each meeting is slightly different, James said there isn’t one person who leads every meeting. He added the meetings strive to give everyone an opportunity to develop their skills by alternating who runs what during each meeting.

“The whole point of Toastmasters is that everyone that joins needs to get hands-on experience at being the leader for that day,” James said. “Learning how to manage a meeting, learning how to delegate roles and tasks...it gives everyone an opportunity to get experience in leadership.”

In addition to weekly workshops, Toastmasters have speech competitions starting at the club level all the way to the international level. James placed second in the district competition last spring – one level before the international competition.

Contestants can pick any subject matter to speak on, and James said he chose to speak about the true meaning of success. James said his fear of public speaking prevented him from joining the Toastmasters several times since his enrollment at TCU.

James, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, spent six years in the National Football League, playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots during his career. 

The six-foot-one wide receiver finished his time at TCU with 40 catches for 580 yards and four touchdowns, according to his bio on the Patriots' website.

Toward the end of his professional football career, James finally joined the TCU Toastmasters.

"[I had to] feel the fear and do it anyway," James said. "I was blessed athletic ability, and that served me well, but I’ve learned that I was created to reach out to people.”

As the new president of TCU Toastmasters, James said he’s going to make it his goal to reach out, spread the word of the organization and help as many people as he can with communication skills.

Jordan Ray contributed to this story.

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