Raiders LB Sam Williams poses for a photo with Centerville Junior High School students during a recent visit.
Oakland Raiders LB Sam Williams recently spoke to students at Centerville Junior High in Fremont, Calif., about the importance of focusing on education. The classroom was filled with young football players and "ambassadors," a group of underrepresented students who mentor other underrepresented students. Williams spoke directly to the football players about being a student first and an athlete second, while encouraging the ambassadors to continue on their positive paths.
Centerville Junior High teacher, Dawn Troupe-Masi, asked for the Raiders to come to her school to speak to some of the football players. According to Troupe-Masi, "we have football players who aren't always on task in class so they think what they're doing on the field is going to supersede what's expected of them in the classroom." She hoped Williams would be able to prove to these athletes that education is pivotal to success on the field.
As Troupe-Masi set up the event, she realized the ambassadors would also benefit from hearing Williams speak about his ability to overcome the odds and reach his level of success. "I hope the young ambassadors learn that you can make a difference. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, as long as you have the right spirit and the right thought process in your mind and in your heart, you can make a difference," said Williams.
To encourage the kids, Williams talked about his struggles in junior high and his realization later on in high school that paying attention, doing the work, and getting good grades in school are the basis for success. Without good grades, Williams would not have been able to play college football and his dream of playing in the NFL would never have come true. "I can relate to them because I was in a situation like them where school was a challenge to me when I was younger and I didn't know how important it was. So by my learning experiences I am able to relate to the young kids that look up to me," said Williams.
Williams emphasized the importance of listening to the teachers, asking for help and remembering that the teachers are there for support. It was immediately clear that the students took Williams' message to heart. "There was not a peep when he was talking," said Troupe-Masi. "It was his heart that was speaking to them and they understand that and they really paid attention. He was being for real."
After listening intently, students had the opportunity to ask Williams questions. Students asked a variety of questions from the toughest player he has ever faced to whether he has dealt with being told his dreams weren't possible. Williams answered every question and stressed that if you believe something is possible and you set your mind to it, you will succeed.
Following the questions, students received autographs and took pictures, clearly excited to be around a pro football player from the Bay Area who has overcome the odds and achieved his goals..
Troupe-Masi saw the benefit of having Williams talk about where has been and how to reach goals. She hopes the students take away that staying focused in school is critical. "Everything he learned from high school on really is pivotal to his career now. It impacts everything he is and how applies himself to it," Troupe-Masi said.
If the football players' and the ambassadors' rapt attention to Raiders LB Sam Williams is any indication of the focus they will have in the classroom in the years to come, then the goal of the visit will be achieved.