Red Ribbon Week was kicked off with a proper bang Monday as JSU athletes visited local schools in support of awareness against drug and alcohol abuse.
Members of the JSU football squad and track team visited White Plains Middle School during the pep rally for their last game and gave short talks on the reasons why drugs are harmful to them and encouraged them to speak out on the topic of drug abuse.
Freshman linebacker Steven Snyder spoke to the gathered grades of 4th through 8th about how staying away from drugs has kept him focused on football and school. And staying clean keeps him physically healthy and in shape for the football season and helps him maintain his focus on his studies, football and his life overall.
The gym full of students reacted very positively to the presence of the athletes as they listened intently to every word that was spoken. The 7th and 8th grade football teams were especially focused on the advice as they are preparing for the challenges and strains of entering high school and high school athletics.
After the talk and the pep rally, dozens of kids were anxious to meet and have their pictures taken with the visiting athletes. Some came up and thanked the players for their coming and talked excitedly about their own game that night. JSU’s presence generated an extra element of excitement to an already exciting atmosphere.
After the pep rally, Snyder and offensive lineman Austin Parker; a freshman also, spoke about their roles as campus leaders and their presence in the local community at large. Snyder spoke of “leading with his actions as opposed to just words”. Parker echoed that sentiment by saying his role in the community and the fact that athletics are held in such high esteem keeps him in check and he is mindful of how his actions will be looked at and how they can influence others.
They also embrace the responsibility of being role models to younger athletes and encourage them “to do the right thing, even if others do not” as Parker said.
Sophomore long-jumper Crystal Williams added that their visibility as athletes made them role models that others looked up to and that played a big role in how they carry themselves.
These underclass athletes will be the future leaders of not only their respective sports teams, but leaders of the university and the local community.
And getting the word out early to the younger kids about important social issues of our day speaks to the maturity that these young athletes are already demonstrating.