G Stefen Wisniewski reads to the students at Coronado Elementary. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, Oakland Raiders rookie G Stefen Wisniewski visited students in the "Academic's 1st" at Coronado Elementary School in Richmond, Calif. Wisniewski visited several classrooms, kindergarten through fourth grade, reading to the students who had decorated signs and created Raiders banners in anticipation of his arrival.
Wisniewski then moved on to the cafeteria and gave a motivational speech to the upper grades. He shared his personal history and explained that part of his motivation to play in the NFL was to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and Raiders Legend, Steve Wisniewski. He stressed the importance of academics, adding that sports are not forever, but education lasts a lifetime. According to Reginald Figgs, the Coronado after-school program supervisor, the majority of students in the program come from low income households and are constantly forced to overcome obstacles at a young age. Wisniewski encouraged the students to work hard, set goals, and always persevere in the face of adversity.
Wisniewski became Penn State's first three-time Academic All-American and majored in Education. In fact, when asked what occupation he would choose if he did not play in the NFL, he answered, "I would be a high school English teacher."
Wisniewski's focus on education was exactly what Figgs hoped he would bring to the students. The visit was important because of the impact it had on student motivation. "The impact of professional athletes on students is invaluable, especially from such a legendary team as the Oakland Raiders," said Figgs. "Most of the kids here face adversity on a daily basis, and sometimes it seems the odds are against them. Having a player visit gives them that additional boost and motivation and they see that they are recognized and cared about."
"It was such a highlight for our students; I enjoyed watching their faces," said Coronado Elementary School Prinicipal Linda Cohen. "I hope that visits like this will show our students what it takes to have high goals and meet those goals with hard work and dedication."
Wisniewski was happy to spend time with the students. "I'm someone who believes I was blessed with this status as a pro football player in order to bless others," said Wisniewski. "So, anytime I get a chance like this to talk to kids , I'm going to take advantage and try to use what I've been given to bless others."