March 21, 2013
LAWT News Service
Over 500 Compton Unified School District (CUSD) Dominguez High School students listened as professional football player Richard Sherman shared his journey from their school’s football field to college, and finally the NFL, Wednesday, March 6.
The Dominguez High School alumnus, who graduated in 2006, visited his alma mater as part of a special assembly sponsored by Students with a Goal (SWAG), a nonprofit dedicated to presenting motivational speeches by professional athletes. Sponsors also included Fritz Management, Education Inc., and Revolution Prep K-12. Moderator Romal Tume, founder of SWAG, provided students with the opportunity to ask Sherman questions about his experiences as a Dominguez student, his college years, and his NFL career. The assembly was also filmed by the NFL Network’s E60 program.
While attending Dominguez, Sherman, who plays cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, maintained a 4.2 GPA and scored 1,400 on the SATs, but he acknowledged that his path to success was not an easy one. “It always feels good to come back to Compton. It’s gotten a little less violent, everything’s a little more cleaned up, but making things better starts with you guys.
Wherever you want to be, wherever you want to go, understand that the future is right here. It is what you make of it,” he said.
Sherman, a graduate of Stanford University, also cautioned students about the dangers of making the wrong kinds of friends. “In high school gangs might seem cool because those guys, some of them are your friends and maybe they support you, but down the line they’ll be the same dudes from jail, and the same dudes back on the streets,” he said. “But you’ll be saying, ‘Man, I could’ve been a doctor. Man, I could’ve been somebody.’ Those same people you follow, where are you following them to? You can be somebody right now. You can make those decisions right now. It all depends on what direction you want to go.” Sherman praised Dominguez’s teachers for their support during his high school years and reminded students to value them. “You have great teachers, you have great staff. It may seem like they hold you down or are messing with you all the time, or your coaches are too tough on you, but they really just want to see you be successful,” he noted. “It’s tough out there. It’s tough in the Hub City, but once you make it outside the city, nobody can stop you. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
SWAG’s Founder Romal Tume said he hopes each event he brings to schools awakens students to tap into their potential and excel in whatever they’re passionate about. “It’s our mission to work with schools by having athletes share their personal stories. We want them to show young people they can achieve their dreams and overcome challenges,” he said. “We want them to know that yes, it is difficult, but if they stay focused, they can make it happen.” Tume added that because Sherman grew up in Compton and attended Dominguez High his life story resonates with students. “Richard is here saying he’s been through what they’ve been through, but that they can still succeed.”
For Assistant Principal Bobby Walker, the SWAG assembly was a great opportunity to open the eyes of Dominguez students. “It was wonderful of him to come out and share his experiences with our children. I hope they walk out knowing there are positive role models coming out of our community, and our school,” he said. “Having Richard here today is a reminder that our kids don’t always have to believe the bad things people say about our city.”