Just say no

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Troy University Trojan “six-pack” commanded the wide-eyed attention of a packed cafetorium of elementary students Monday morning.

The six Trojan football players were at Troy Elementary School to help kick off Red Ribbon Week and to encourage and inspire the young students to “Say no to drugs.”

However, many of the young boys were probably envisioning themselves walking in the shoes of their gridiron heroes.

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But as each Trojan stepped to the microphone, the message was the same, “You won’t live your dream if you don’t stay in school and away from drugs.”

Coaches Shane Wasden and Mo Crain told the students that when Troy University recruiters are considering an athlete, they go first to the principal’s office with two questions to be answered. “Is this kid a discipline problem, and does he make the grades?”

Those who are discipline problems and those who don’t make the grades will not make the team.

The coaches’ messages of good grades, good behavior and good decisions were echoed by the Trojan warriors.

Jerrel Jernigan and Jason Bruce, wide receivers for the Trojans, caution the students to choose their friends wisely and steer clear of the wrong crowd. Both related stories of friends who had gotten involved with the “wrong’ crowd and gone down a path with no future.

“You can be a really great guy but get in the wrong neighborhood and let other guys get in your head,” Bruce said. “It happened to a friend of mine. We tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen and got into a lot of trouble. I got a letter from him and in big letters he wrote, ‘I wish I would have listened.’ So, I’m here to tell you, if you have a dream it won’t come true if you do drugs.”

Bear Woods, linebacker, cautioned the students to listen to their teachers, make good decisions and be a friend who guides others in the right direction or they could become “sinking ships.”

Zack Marcum, wide receiver, told the students that drugs break down bodies and prevent young people from reaching their potential and living their dreams.

Levi Brown, quarterback, and Micah Grimes, lineman, shared stories on friends who let drugs rule their lives. Brown’s friend has a second chance at a productive life. Grimes’ friend does not. She lost her life to drugs.

The message the Trojan football six brought was simple and direct, “Say no to drugs.”

Troy Elementary School Principal Geoffrey Spann’s hope is that their message will help his students chart a path toward good grades, good behavior and good decision-making.

When he quizzed the students as to how many would like to play college football, the cafetorium was filled with waving hands.

“There might be one of you to make it,” Spann said. “Just one. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve your dreams. You are laying the foundation now. It all starts here, now.”