Column by Ashley Beall
This is the third year that Drake athletics and Character Counts in Iowa have partnered up to send student-athletes into middle schools to talk with the kids.
This is my second year being a part of the program, and nothing makes me happier than knowing I’m able to be a positive influence in a child’s life.
The topics that we talk to them about are effort and attitude in achieving goals and integrity in action.
We share our experiences about these topics with the kids and then work with them on how to improve in these areas in the classroom, sports, life at home, etc.
This past week, I went into a classroom in Urbandale with two other athletes and gave them my speech about effort and attitude and how to achieve goals.
I was a little nervous because this was my first speech to them since last year, and I was really hoping that they’d be able to connect to my story.
I told them that during my sophomore year of high school I broke my ankle sliding in softball and was forced to give up my dream of softball because of the injury.
It was a little hard for me to talk about that part of my life because it had hit me so hard.
But I told them about how it helped me grow as a person and how without that injury I wouldn’t have become a part of the Drake rowing team, which is ultimately my favorite part about being at Drake.
After our speeches, we gave the kids an exercise to do where we gave them certain scenarios. They were given a chart to fill out where they are on the effort and attitude scale.
We then went around and checked to see if they needed any help or if they had any questions for us. After they were finished with the exercises, we had a Q&A session where they got to ask us all sorts of questions.
While all of the questions didn’t exactly pertain to our sports, they did seem to really enjoy being able to talk to us.
One of the girls asked me if rowing was like kayaking.
I told her it was like the sport in the summer Olympics where the people in boats move like speed demons while racing each other.
The look on her face and the kids around her made me feel pretty darn cool.
One thing that kept coming into my mind during our visit was one time when I interviewed Drake head football coach Creighton.
He said one of the most powerful things about being a college athlete is the ability to positively impact children’s lives because of the power of the jersey we wear.
While the kids might not remember who we are individually, they will remember our talks with them and hopefully be able to apply that to their lives somehow.
Beall is a sophomore public relations and English double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org