Being a leader and a role model is a big part of being a student athlete.
Coaches try to instill positive morals in their players just as much as they teach them how to catch, tackle, and throw. In some cases, coaches provide kids with the positive role model they’re missing at home. At Lakewood High School in Ohio, football coach Tom Thome takes that honor very seriously.
Coach Thome says he was speaking with Lakewood High School assistant principal Brian Siftar when the subject of the school district’s planned “Father’s Day Walk” came up. During the annual Father’s Walk, kids can have their dads show up to walk them into school, but many kids wouldn’t have anyone to walk with them that day.
Coach Thome had heard a lot of his players talk about leaving practice to get home in time to watch their younger siblings because their parents work. Since so many of his players come from single-parent homes, he decided on the spot to use his student athletes to bridge the gap between parental figure and child.
On the day of the Father’s Walk, Coach Thome arranged to have team members from the high school’s football team go to every elementary school in the city to stand in for the dads who couldn’t be there for their kids. He says it’s just another way that they hope to give back to the community that has supported the Rangers team at every opportunity.
“Lakewood fans continue to come out and support our teams and we wanted to give back,” he said.
Players showed up early, dressed in their game day jerseys, to make sure that no student in their district walked alone. For the players, it was not only a chance to be a positive role model for younger kids, but a chance to go back to their old elementary schools and see all of the teachers who’d helped them along the way.
“All of the upperclassmen went back to the elementary school they attended,” said the coach. “It was neat speaking with teachers who had my players and hearing about how much they have changed since those days.”
Coach Thome says he grew up in a different town and has been incredibly impressed with the tight-knit bond shared by the citizens of Lakewood. “Everybody here goes out of their way to help each other out and I’m proud to be apart of that,” he said. He’s clearly doing his part to raise the next generation of considerate leaders! This is a relatively small gesture that will no doubt have enormous impact on many generations to come.
Way to go, kids! This is something that these students will never forget. For the little ones it’s a chance to connect with older students, giving them someone real and tangible to look up to. For the older students it’s a taste of the satisfaction one gets by doing something kind for someone who has nothing to give in return.
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