A high school football player takes their first step onto the field with a recipe of mixed emotions such as excitement, reservations of the unknown, the drive to excel, and the thrill of being part of a team. Fast forward to the NFL, and that freshman is rookie cornerback Darryl Morris making his debut with the 49ers and that very same state of mind. Morris and his fellow 49ers rookies, just like the freshman, have one method of excelling to the next level—setting goals.
49ers rookies and the Santa Clara freshman football team worked collaboratively to establish their goals for on and off the field as they kicked off the 49ers' 1st and Goal event on Monday at Santa Clara High School.
"I think long-term goal setting is especially important, as it encourages you to set short term goals and move from one stage to the next," said defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye, "It is just as applicable to me as it is to them, since we are going through the same thing at a different level."
Twenty eager freshmen and the youngest faces of the 49ers spent an afternoon discussing their hopes, expectations, and strategies for exceeding expectations and growing as athletes and overall individuals. Activities included short term and long term goal-setting, as well as team-building exercises and creating secret handshakes which made for a productive afternoon that is sure to leave a lasting impact on Santa Clara's youth.
"My personal goal coming into this program is to establish a 100% graduation rate," stated first-year Santa Clara High School coach Hank Roberts, "These exercises and working with individuals who have taken their play to the next level will help our team focus on what is important and not let distractions interfere with who they grow to become in the future."
The freshman athletes along with their 49ers rookie mentors including Quinton Dial, Darryl Morris, Luke Marquardt, Kevin McDermott, Lawrence Okoye, Chuck Jacobs, and Jenna York and Mara York of 49ers ownership, created a template of short term and long term goals for high school and what they envisioned for potential college and career choices. After topping off their projects with creative handshakes and team names such as "#Team Beast," and "Ruthless Rookies," the six groups took turns presenting their written steps towards success to their teammates.
"I think it is really important to work hard in everything you do," said Morris, "If you want to play football, work hard at it, but also in life and whatever you want to do. If it is important to you, you have to work hard at it and achieve your goals."
Christian of the Santa Clara Bruins plans to apply Morris' advice and the goals he has established as a freshman and utilize them throughout his academic and professional career.
"I want to be really good at football and excel in high school and college," expressed Christian, "From there, I see myself practicing to become a veterinarian."
The freshman all-stars and 49ers rookie players wrapped up the afternoon with autographs, smiles, and an experience all parties will remember for a lifetime. The contagious adrenaline and optimism which filled the room will follow the athletes to the classroom and into the community as their positive character in turn impacts their peers and the goals of others. At the end of the day, all of the athletes walked away with a clear path towards success in school, in life, and under the stadium lights.