The Athens Review
Coaches spend countless hours teaching players offense and defense, but Athens High School head man Paul Essary told the Athens Kiwanis Tuesday that there’s also time to give them a few life lessons.
Essary said he has a passion for sports and working with students and believes they can learn things in athletics that will help them later in life.
“There are a lot of kids that wouldn’t get an education, if not for athletics,” Essary said. “I’m one of them. I was fortunate to be able to go and play college football, because that kept me in school.”
Essary said he assembled his players on Monday and spoke about their role as varsity players.
“They not only represent themselves and their team, family and school, but they represent this great community of Athens,” Essary said. “We stress that to them.”
The coaches explain to the players that the numbers on the scoreboard are important, but how they live their lives will have a more lasting impact.
“You’ve got to be accountable in life,” Essary said. “You’re not only accountable for your community and teammates, but to your future wife and family.”
Essary said not every student comes from an ideal home life, but they have to overcome it.
“I tell them, some of you have been given a short stick,” Essary said. “Now, it’s your turn, when you get to be a father and you get to be a husband to take care of them. If you don’t like the way it feels, change it.”
Essary said some would like to see athletics taken out of the school’s systems, but they are a valuable tool in guiding young people toward the next step in their lives.
“I feel like athletics gives us an avenue and a place to teach these kids a little bit more about life,” Essary said. “You’re going to have things happen to you in your life. We all have, and you’re going to have to make the decision whether to lay there or do you get up.”
Feeling responsible for the well being of someone else will motivate them to get up, Essary said.