Mississippi State’s John Cohen noted all of his university’s athletes were once elementary school students not very different from those in his audience. The key to reaching such a level – or even to achieving other goals in life – is to consistently make good decisions, he said.
“I wanted them to understand that everyone sitting in our locker rooms at Mississippi State was once sitting in the same seats they’re in now,” Cohen said after speaking to about 500 second- to fifth-grade students in the school’s gym on Monday. “They can achieve anything they want if they just will go for it every single day.
“I know it is a common message, but when you hear it from several different sources, it helps.”
Cohen spoke to the students for about a half hour as part of Red Ribbon Week, which encourages pupils to avoid drugs and make smart choices. Afterward, he signed autographs for about another 30 minutes.
“I think Coach Cohen did a great job of talking to the kids about responsibility and how we all have the responsibility to make the right choices,” said Mooreville Elementary Assistant Principal Anthony Bryant.
Cohen told the students pride can be both a good and bad thing. They should be proud of who they are, but not too proud to do things like picking up trash they see in the hallway. He said that greatness is fostered by what people do when no one is watching.
The message stuck with several students. Third-grader Sage Cruse, 8, said she will remember Cohen’s words about pride.
“I’ll remember that if you see a piece of paper, it is your responsibility to pick it up,” said third-grader Daniel Lopez, 9.