Reading, writing and arithmetic, the basics of K-12 education. But what about commitment, integrity, and courage? We know most schools have the former down, but the curriculum doesn’t always require the latter. For five years, Extreme Networks has partnered with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to power the Heart of a Hall of Famer program. With a shared interest in providing our youth with knowledge beyond the textbook, this program gives students the opportunity to hear first-hand what it takes to be successful. And who better to give those lessons than the Gold Jackets themselves?
Each session is led by a Pro Football Hall of Famer who sits down with students to explain how the importance of character shaped their success. Students at the conference location are able to meet in person with the Hall of Famer, while remote students participate virtually from anywhere in the country via a video conference.
Jacob Ray, Pro Football Hall of Fame, sits down with John Hannah during Heart of a Hall of Famer session in Huntsville, Alabama.
John Hannah, former Alabama and New England Patriots offensive lineman, spoke with students at Huntsville High School in Alabama. Although Hannah is often considered one of the greatest offensive lineman of all time, he shared with students that it was his hard work, rather than any natural talent that propelled him. He has taken that work ethic off the field as well. Hannah remarked, “I don’t think I was the best athlete that ever played, but I always felt like when I played I could be the hardest worker. I could beat you through work rather than talent.”
John Hannah takes a question from students at Huntsville High School
But the real highlight of this event was Hannah’s engagement with the students. Students both in-person and conferenced-in asked John questions ranging from what the sport has taught him to describe the feeling of playing in his first NFL game. He made it a point to acknowledge the people who helped him on his journey beyond the basics of the game, especially his coaches who taught him the importance of character and discipline. Hannah even shared a few jokes during his time speaking with the students before getting candid about how people initially doubted his ability to be successful in the league. Hannah advises students to be aware of your weaknesses and find a way to turn them into strengths. He finished off the session with the two characteristics that are most important to athletes: humility and diligence. Hannah explains, “When you’re humble you are always working to get better.”
Hannah acknowledged the importance of programs like these, which provide Hall of Famers with the opportunity to give back; and the students feel the same way. One student explained, “It inspires you to go out and do the same thing. It was just great to see somebody like that come down and share his wisdom with us. You can learn and implement it into your own life.”
From left to right Jo Stafford HCS Freshman Academy, Gabby Roebling GA/AL K-12 AE, Jacob Morton GA/AL K-12 SE, John Hannah, and Todd Watkins HCS Director of Career and Technical Education
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