Growing up, playing in the NFL was not the only career Sean Weatherspoon envisioned for himself: if his dreams of competing on the gridiron did not pan out, today, Weatherspoon would be teaching high school history and coaching high school football, he told a group of Fain Elementary students last week during a pre-CRCT rally at the school. The Atlanta Falcons linebacker stopped by to get them revved-up and ready for the annual spring test which began Wednesday and ends next week.
As part of “sports day” at Fain students and staff got to sport their favorite team’s paraphernalia. Third, fourth, and fifth-grade students got the chance to meet and take pictures with Weatherspoon, and ask him questions like: “When you get tackled, does it hurt?”; “Why do you act like you’re eating food when you make a touchdown?”; and “How did you make it through college and graduate early?”
Before the Q-and-A, Weatherspoon mesmerized the young audience by describing his journey to the NFL and life as an Atlanta Falcon. He pointed out the similarities between preparing for a game and preparing for tests like the CRCT, reminding them to fuel-up by eating a hearty breakfast on testing days and get plenty of rest the night before.
“Football is a lot like school…Every Sunday is like my test, so I have to prepare throughout the week. I have to stay in shape, study the playbook on my iPad, and study the other team’s films. I actually spend more time in the classroom than on the field. And just like you, if I don’t take advantage of the time I have to study in the classroom, I won’t be ready for my big test on Sunday.”
Weatherspoon decided to visit Fain after his Spoonful of Hope foundation, and Prolanthropy, a philanthropic management organization that creates opportunities for professional athletes to share their success through charitable efforts, joined forces with Scholastic to identify a school in the Atlanta area where Weatherspoon could meet the students, share his message, and encourage and energize them about reading and student achievement.
“I met Fain’s media specialist a few months ago when she was following up on independent reading opportunities for the kids at her school,” Kevehazi said. “I was so impressed with her enthusiasm, and the great passion around reading at the school, I thought Fain was a great choice.”
Weatherspoon agreed, saying, “I know many of these kids will never have a chance to meet a professional football player, and having someone encourage them, who they see on TV, and who has achieved what they want to one day will go a long way.”