We have all heard different versions of the story: Upcoming high school star athlete whose enthusiastic parents believe their teen can play college sports and eventually go pro, encourage full commitment to the sport, while education ends up taking a back seat.
As talented as a child may be and as appealing as professional salaries may sound, research shows prioritizing sports over school does not pay off for most people. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, approximately 6 percent of students that participate in high school athletics move on to play at the collegiate level, and a fraction of those continue to play professionally.
When it comes to football, for example, only 1.6 percent of college football players make it to the National Football League. To put it in perspective, a high school football player has a .08 percent chance of making it to the NFL.
I was one of the select few that made it all the way to the NFL. Some of my athletic accomplishments include: awards for both football and track at Bakersfield College and Arizona State, an appearance in the 1997 Rose Bowl NCAA National Championship, and a second-round draft pick in the 1998 NFL draft to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When I am asked what education could possibly mean to a former NFL player and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, I reply that education is my greatest accomplishment outside my family. As a matter of fact, I place a higher value on my degrees than any football or track award.
After I retired from the NFL, I applied for a job at Home Depot and was turned down for not having a bachelor’s degree. The experience was a turning point in my life. I decided I needed to go back to school and wouldn’t be overshadowed by others for not having an education. I have since earned a master of education degree (M.Ed.) and I will be pursuing a doctorate in education (D.Ed.) shortly.
The year 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of my graduation from Bakersfield College. I am still a part of the Bakersfield College community, now as an associate professor of welding. Bakersfield College was the catalyst for everything I have done with my life. If it weren’t for BC there would have been no Arizona State, no Rose Bowl, no Sun Bowl, no draft into the NFL, no Pittsburgh Steelers. I wouldn’t have served in Iraq. I wouldn’t have done any of those things if it weren’t for Bakersfield College.
So, to answer the question: “What does BC mean to me?” my response is simple: Bakersfield College is a part of me, it is in my blood, and I am BC!”
Bakersfield College plays an important role in our community by improving the quality of life in Kern County by helping individuals get professional qualifications they need. The quickest way out of a negative life situation is through education. You want to better your life? Get your education. You want to go places? Get your education.
I am modeling what I have learned from my experiences at BC and instilling these beliefs into my two young sons. I am also serving as my students’ example, and in the future they will pay it back to the generations that follow them. We need everyone on board.
Education matters. In fact, education is all that matters, even to a former pro football player.