Former NFL player to visit LHJH
By Mike Eddleman
Reaching the NFL and playing football at the highest level is a dream achieved by only a few, but for Rashad Jennings, who flashed his talents on Sundays for seven seasons, that time in the spotlight is something he hopes is only a small part of his legacy.
“I always tell people that if I’m only remembered as an NFL running back, in my book I’m a failure,” Jennings said. “There are so many other things I desire to do with my life and I’m just now getting an opportunity to show that to the world.”
Running the ball for the Jaguars, Giants and Raiders, Jennings racked up nearly 4,000 yards and 23 scores in those years, but takes as much pride today in his accomplishment as an author with a New York Times bestseller, and being the winner of the Freshman Writer of the Year Award in college.
Pulling all those talents and experiences together, Jennings will visit Liberty Hill Junior High Sept. 26 to share a message he believes is vitally important – education and hard work are critical to life success.
“I grew up an overweight chubby kid with glasses and asthma,” Jennings said. “I had a .6 GPA at one point, with a reading comprehension deficit and I struggled academically. I never forget that I was a very unlikely kid. I’m kind of a living witness that dreams come true and education is important. I want to feed as much attention as I can to the importance of reading and I’m able to do that through my books.”
Having an author come in and share their story can be a big boost to students who may need it.
“It allows our students to see someone who was just like them growing up,” said Junior High Librarian Katie Ann Prescott. “I feel like allowing students to see another human being who has gone through some of the same struggles they are going through it allows them to know that they’re able and capable of becoming successful in their life. It’s important for them to not just hear it from teachers and parents but to also hear it from people who are living it and have been successful, but had to struggle through it.”
Jennings’ latest book, “Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide”, is the second in the Coin Slot Chronicles, and is available for students to purchase ahead of time to have signed at the event. The book is geared toward inspiring the imagination of young students to promote a love of reading.
“I wrote this specifically for young males to be attracted to it and never want to put it down and so far it’s been just that,” he said.
The event is scheduled for 8:48 a.m. at the Junior High for seventh graders and 9:46 a.m. for eighth graders, but Prescott said the event is open to the community, with a limited number of spots available for each session.
Anyone interested in attending the event should register online at http://bit.ly/rjvisit to reserve a spot. There are also a limited number of copies of Jennings’ book still available that attendees can have signed following the event.
“He’s kind of a low-key guy,” Prescott said of Jennings. “He doesn’t have a Powerpoint or presentation, but after he talks about his struggles and what he went through the kids will have an opportunity to do a Q and A with him, then after that they will have an opportunity to take pictures with him and have their books signed.”
To Jennings, the message he wants to send to students is simple and focused on effort and the ability for everyone to succeed.
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, right?” he said. “I always remember that. I hang my hat on work ethic.”
When he speaks, he hopes to be able to spark something special through his story and connecting with students.
“They will hear a story that is motivating,” Jennings said. “They can expect to see a man stand in front of them and be vulnerable.”