I love football season! Although I grow in my excitement for college football every year, there's nothing like feeling the energy at a high school on a Friday in the fall!
As a first year building administrator years ago, I was especially excited to interact with the football players in the hallways on a Football Friday! There's nothing more classy than football players dressed up in button-down shirts and ties walking the hallways showing their pride for their school and team!
During one of the class changes, I was standing with other administrators and teachers talking about the upcoming game in the hallway. As a group of well-dressed football players walked towards us, I saw one of our offensive guards, Steve, in the group. I had Steve in math class the year before when I was a teacher. While he struggled academically, his desire and determination to learn was matched equally to his stellar performance on the field. As the group of players approached us, many of them were laughing and thanking the students and teachers wishing them good luck for tonight's game. But, Steve was focused and carried a stone-cold look in his eyes similar to face I saw inside a helmet under the lights.
As he got closer to us, I remembered that I had just seen him in science class just yesterday while visiting classrooms. I remembered it vividly because they were studying for a big test - which happened to be this very period.
Through all of the high fives and well wishes for tonight's game, I shouted out to him wishing him good luck on the science test as he walked by us.
Steve stopped immediately and turned around. Like a movie, it felt like the hallway went to a dead silence as everyone stopped and turned to him and me. Steve walked directly towards me and said something that has stuck with me ever since - almost 11 years later:
Thank you. Thank you for taking an interest in me and my education. Thank you for caring about me more than just someone who plays football. I'm more than a football player. Everyone wants to talk about the game, but they don't realize I have more important things. After practice last night, I studied. I woke up early and studied more. I have an A in my science class, and I want to keep it. I can't even think about tonight's game until I first get through this test. People want to talk about the game. Can't they understand that I have more to think about today than just the game. Thank you for thinking about me and my education. I'm more than a football player.
It was at that moment that I truly understood the power of my words and reminded myself what it's like to be in school. With all of the pressures and stresses surrounding our students, we should never lose sight they have many sides to them. While we may classify students as the football player, the artist, or even the shy one, we can't lose sight of the complexity and multi-dimensional aspects each and every one of them possesses.
While I am not suggesting we don't wish our students good luck for the upcoming game or competition, I walked away that day with an even greater reminder that our students are more than one dimension...