I just returned from Edgewood High School where I spoke with coach Mark Deal to a classroom of special needs students. When Coach Deal asked me to speak to the kids I jumped at the opportunity, for I’ve always enjoyed speaking to people and attempting to motivate them.
In the class, Coach Deal and I were asked a series of pre-determined questions by his daughter, Carrie Deal, who is doing her student teaching at the school. The theme of our message today was hard work. In speaking to the class I spoke about my experiences as a student athlete, my home life and how I grew up. I talked about how I went through high school with my priorities out of order; after school it was nothing for me to turn my attention to video games instead of homework. Now, I know what’s important and my priorities are in line.
I related everything to what the kids go through on a daily basis in school in addition to using examples from my own life. I let the kids know that, though they may not know it, they’re an inspiration to many because many people have told these kids that they couldn’t learn or that they were too dumb to understand anything. I encouraged them to believe in themselves and not to let anyone tell them what they couldn’t do.
Coach Deal and I also encouraged them to always be appreciative of those who help them on a daily basis, including everyone from their parents to the faculty who help them learn at school. It is those people who give their lives to helping special needs students learn and realize that they’re just as important as anyone else.
Going to Edgewood was a humbling and eye-opening experience. I’m very glad I went and would do it again in a heartbeat. They’ve inspired me to be better myself. I have the abilities to be successful so I should use them just as I told them. Too often I get lackadaisical and forget how much better I can be. Well, talking to those kids was great medicine for me. I will continue to do my best and, in this case, practice what I’ve preached.