Ex-Professional Football Player & High School Math Teacher
New Haven, CT
Two-and half years on-and-off Professional football/Entering third year of teaching High School
As a football player, you must first have a great understanding of the game and the specific position you play. I played wide receiver so it was extremely important to catch the ball very well. Being fast, strong, and elusive was also an advantage to be successful, but intangibles like blocking, hand placement, and route-running made the difference between good and great players. As always, being a great teammate is always the best characteristic! As a teacher, mastery of the subject is necessary but most important, is being able to motivate students to learn, inspire students to strive for improvement, and reaching different personalities and learning styles in various ways. Every kid is different so you must be able to connect with them all.
To be a professional football player, you must have collegiate experience, which requires some experience before in high school. Most players play at least 5 years, starting in high school, before becoming a professional. You will need to be successful in college so that professional teams become interested in you. Every year there is a draft where teams select players in a specified order. The draft is 7 rounds. If you are selected by a team, you must play for that team or what until the following year to reenter the draft. If you are not selected in the draft, you become a free agent and you are free to sign with any interested team of your choice. In my case, I started playing contact football as a high school sophomore. In college, I played a lot for three years and got interest from several teams. After my senior year, I was not drafted so I signed with the New York Jets as a free agent. In addition, you must consistently train your body physically to endure the physical nature of the sport and to improve your skill set. The season runs only 3 -4 months, so the remaining year is spent as preparation and is just as important as the actual season. It is the same way during the season, in that there is only one game per week, with the other 6 days spent preparing. You must continue to improve your skills because every year and week, new and other players are competing to have your spot on the team. To become a teacher, a bachelors degree from college is required in education, or a major related to subject being taught. Continuous professional development is necessary throughout your career to refine and learn new skills. You have to master your knowledge of the subject you teach, you must master the ability to manage a classroom of personalities, and you must be great at managing your time to grade work and lesson plan outside of school.
During the football season, most days consisted of early meetings, followed by snack and pre-practice preparations like getting taped and treatment in the training room. Then there is a 2-3 hour practice. Practice is broken up in to many periods that focus on different parts of the game. There is a period specific to your individual position, and the others are team periods. During the team periods you compete against your teammates who run the upcoming team’s plays. There are several breaks to recover and get water as well. Practice is followed by weight room workout, lunch, and then film review. First meetings begin at 7am and last meetings finish at 4pm. Game days vary, but there is usually several early meetings, pre-game meal, game preparations, and finally game time! A typical teaching day begins at 630 am for me so that I can setup up class for the upcoming day. I have four different periods each day. Within each period, there will usually be a warm-up puzzle, question, or video clip to start off the day. Depending on the day, a lesson or activity will follow, and of course some sort of class work. The school day ends at 230 pm but I will usually have tutoring after, followed by football practice.
As a football player, the toughest part of the job physically are meetings after practice. Your body is so fatigued so it is more difficult to stay focused and awake! During the summer, training camp is the toughest period of the year, because of its intensity and multiple-practice-per-day schedule. The toughest part of being a teacher, is trying to give all of your students equal amount of specialized attention, especially if all of them are lost about different things.
Game day and playing with your teammates was absolutely the best thing about playing football. Delivering a great lesson that your students enjoy and learn from is the best thing about teaching. Summer vacation ain't so bad either!
I advise anyone looking to play football to work extremely hard because only a very small percentage of athletes get the opportunity to play at the highest level. They should understand that in addition to their work, many external things outside of their control play a factor, so they should be aware of the volatility of the business. Anyone looking to enter education, should understand that any training besides actual classroom experience will not fully prepare them when they begin. In most cases, they’ll have to learn on the job so they should be prepared for some tough experiences but learn from them. At the end of the day, it will be extremely rewarding.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.
Martha Graham, choreographer
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