, Corbin, KY

December 16, 2013

Former pro football player visits Corbin schools, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Students at Corbin High and Middle schools gathered last week to hear a message from a former professional football player.

Wally Williams, a 42-year-old father of five, came to the Corbin schools as part of a program started by Whitely County Coroner, Andy Croley.

“Win 1 Way is a program designed to bring good, influential people in front of you,” Croley told Corbin Middle School students Thursday.

He added the goal of the Win 1 Way program is to help students figure out “where they are and where they are going in life.”

“It’s a big decision.”

At the middle school Thursday, Croley introduced Williams to the seventh- and eighth-grade classes – and then Williams took the floor of Edwards Gym.

Williams, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., spent the first three years of his career with the Cleveland Browns. He then went on to play for the Baltimore Ravens, before torn right Achilles’ tendon ended his career with the New Orleans Saints. He was a left guard and a center for those teams.

But college came first.

“You have to have a dream,” he said. “That’s where it starts – about having a dream.”

He said once students had a dream, the next step began the work.

“Then you figure out how you’re going to accomplish your goals,” he said. “You have to understand how to get there – how to make those dreams become reality.”

Williams told the students if college was where they wanted to go, they needed to see what the requirements were to get there.

“Look it up,” he said. “You don’t need me to tell you.”

Once they understand what needs to happen – “that’s what you need to get you where you want to go.”

He then explained to students that in his family, he had no choice – college was a must.

“My mother was (one of) my teachers in high school,” Williams said. “I was expected to go to college – there were no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

He said his mother and her sister have more than a century of teaching experience.

“You have to put the pressure on yourself,” Williams told the students. “I knew where I had to go.”

He then played teacher, for a moment – and assigned “homework” for the students.

“When you get home find out what college requirements are,” he asked. “(Find out) what you need to have as far as a GPA (grade point average) – and take that, and put it on the wall.”

Williams told the students they needed to prepare their “mindset.”

“Your future is right in front of you – and closer than you think,” he said. “Once you make it to that point is where the real work begins.”

He told them there were more people to compete against once they get out of school.

“There (are) a million other kids doing this, too,” Williams said. “Your world is going to get bigger – you think it’s big now – it’s going to be bigger.”

He said rising students from across the country as well as the globe would become part of their world. “Your world changes,” he said. “Those are the guys you’ll be competing against.”

Williams said that if students don’t have high GPAs, “there will be another kid to take your spot.”

Then he questioned a common practice of providing participation trophies in sports or academics.

“Losers don’t get trophies,” Williams said, adding the trophy was the motivation. “It’s a great thing to fail.”

He told the students that well-known billionaire Donald Trump has failed himself – but found the desire to succeed the motivation to keep trying.

“If you settle for failure, then you’ll be a failure,” he said.

Williams said he came to speak with the students because he wanted to make a lasting impression. “If I can have influence with these kids it will be a major accomplishment for me,” he said, adding he was very excited for the opportunity.