Former NFL Players Inspire Students

By Kenny Isufi ‘15
Current student athletes and former NFL players spoke to students from selected schools about the wide variety of opportunities in the sports world. These representatives gave valuable information to student athletes preparing for college at John Jay City College in Manhattan.
“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for student athletes,” said assistant football coach Jamal Clarke. “It was very informative for those who want to get into college and pursue a career in sports, such as a plan B if or when their playing career ends but still be in the hype and have a passion for the
game.”
The day started off on a high note w    hen Hip Hop artist, Saul Paul, entertained the crowd with his own mix of words selected by audience members. The song he created on the spot emphasized the goal of the event to help students take action, ‘now now now’, with rhymes that creatively included Mary Poppins’ most popular phrase, ‘supercalafragilisticexpialidocious’.
“I liked how he turned his life around and gave me hope that even though you could start at the bottom you can one day reach the top and be what you wanna be,” said Gabby James ‘15. “It was really creative how he can use words and make a song out of it on the
spot.”
The next part of the event included the eligibility requirements of the NCAA. Ron Brewer, director of player development and alumni of the University of North Carolina, hosted the segment of ‘New Rules vs. Old Rules’ with current student athletes at the college level. The panel included players from both John Jay and Columbia University in varsity sports including tennis, softball, soccer and football.
What surprised the many athletes from various schools in the audience was the new minimum eligibility requirements to play sports at the next level. Although this does not affect most incoming seniors and college freshmen, graduating classes of 2016 and on will need a GPA of at least a 2.3 in order to be eligible by NCAA standards, compared to the current 2.0.
“Grades are highly important at any educational level,
but it becomes more crucial when in college,” said Clarke. “Most people, such as myself, did fairly well in high school but when college came around it was time to buckle down with all the distractions and graduate with over a 3.0 GPA, while still training and competing every week.”
Along with getting into school, the athletes at the panel spoke to the audience about college life as a student athlete. The students shared valuable information about their schedules
Hip Hip artist Saul Paul poses with students.
during the day and the amount of commitment needed to participate in a sport. One athlete on Columbia’s Varsity Football team, described it as, “a lot of dedication, time management, and the importance of doing well in school.”
“I really liked how the speakers there gave me information about college and that as an athlete the steps to take to get to the highest level in football,” said Abdel Saleh ‘16. “Grades will either make the road to college easier, or harder
than ever.” One controversial part of the Sports Expo included
different reactions by audience members. The “You Make The Call” session was held by NFL officiating members Vanessa Streater, Terrel Canton, and current NFL player Chris Crocker of the Cincinnati Bengals. The session gave a look at how officiating in the NFL is done, the opportunities along with becoming a
referee, and how scrutinizing the job could be. The panel for this segment gave select students a chance to stand in the shoes of an NFL official and make the call on debatable plays.
“I really enjoyed the officiating segment because it gave a sense ofwhatitfeltliketobeonafield working during a game, as well as the debate and hype that comes along with it,” said James.
The event ended with the “Bossing Off The Field” panel on careers in sports. The panel featured former
NFL veterans such as wide receiver David Tyree, known for ‘the catch’ in Superbowl XLII, former first round draft pick Patrick Kerney, and George Hegamin and also featured Philadelphia Eagles Director of Player Management, Marcus Sedberry. One of the main focuses was academic success.
“You have to get your homework done,” said Kerney. “Keep up in school because academic success will take you farther in life
than athletics.” Another major takeaway from the
expo itself was setting goals. The panel stressed the importance to start finding out what a person wants to pursue in life and it is important to get informed and know what requirements are needed to get into college. The segment concluded with jobs off the field and an in-depth look at business development, marketing, officiating, and other sports management opportunities for those of interest. “As a student athlete, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get informed about getting into school and careers in sports,” said William Tarver ‘15. “It is essential to know what it takes to make it into the next level and how football or any
other sport can be a gateway to a career in the future.”

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