The San Francisco 49ers 2012 rookie class, along with Jenna and Mara York, took part in the First and Goal program on Monday, Sept. 10, when they visited an after-school classroom to speak to freshmen from the Wilcox High School Frosh/Soph. Football Team.
The event took place at Wilcox High School, in the Santa Clara Unified School District. The focus of the day was to address goal setting and decision-making skills, and how to translate aspirations into reality. Superintendant Dr. Bobbie Plough highlights the importance of role models in young adults' lives, and the 49ers involvement in particular.
"We are always looking for role models, and certainly these are very visible role models and people that students tend to notice and look up to," Plough said. "The fact that they're here not really to talk about football, but about life goals and about how you obtain success in life, is really important. It's very vital for our kids to have multiple adults in their life that will talk about that. So, this is great."
After the 49ers rookies were introduced to the Wilcox High rookies, the student athletes were separated into small groups each led by a 49ers player, where they had the opportunity to discuss their short-term and long-term goals. Each group decorated a poster, detailing their dreams and aspirations, and how they planned on reaching their destinations.
49ers first-round draft pick WR A.J. Jenkins was happy to participate in his first community event in California, and describes the importance of doing so.
"It's very important to come out into the community and participate in events like this because kids look up to us now," Jenkins said. "So, it's critical to come back and try to give this kind of support to let them know that reaching your goals is possible."
49ers fourth-round draft pick G Joe Looney helped the kids realize that once you reach your goals through hard work, you must set new ones in order to continue on the path to success.
"One of the things I talked to them about was hard work. Growing up my dad always told me if you work hard, good things are going to happen," Looney said. "So, that's what I wanted to tell the guys in my group. Just let them know whatever they do, do it 110 percent and don't take anything for granted. This is the most fun time in their lives right now. They're with their friends and they're going to have a great time. But, always make sure when you're on the field and off the field that you're doing the right things and putting in all the work that you need to so you can be successful."
When the group sessions were completed, each group had the opportunity to present their goals to the rest of the classroom, complete with a team name and handshake. The exchange of aspirations was inspiring as the kids encouraged each other to share their dreams, and to be confident that they could make them a reality.
Vice Principal of Wilcox High School, Terence Lien, was pleased with the day's success and excited for the kids to get a chance to brainstorm their ambitions with some of their role models.
"Short-term and long-term goal setting for freshmen who are new to high school parallels what some of these professional athletes in their first year as professional athletes are going through as well. It helps them see the larger picture and something down the road for them," said Lien. "It's great for the students to realize that players are people, too. They are human and not just some idol on T.V. playing on Sunday, but have gone through some of the same things they have gone through as well."
At the end of the event, the 49ers surprised the students by inviting them to Candlestick Park for the game on October 14th when they will battle the New York Giants. After whooping with joy, the kids high fived their new 49ers friends and closed out the event with a lively group cheer.