November 26, 2014

Groton students shown life’s ‘good’ path




Staff Reporter

GROTON — Former NFL football player Tim Green told Groton elementary students Tuesday morning that in the list of life’s most important things, character, reading and education trump sports.
“I would rather have any one of my five kids be a good person, a good student, a good reader, before a good athlete,” Green told the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders gathered in the school’s gym.
Green, who played defensive end and linebacker for eight years for the Atlanta Falcons before becoming a lawyer and author of adult and children’s books, told the students how he came to achieve both his dreams of playing pro football and becoming a novelist. He also read the first chapter of his latest book, “First Team,” that includesGroton as one of the settings.
Green, who now lives in Skaneateles, said when he was the same age as the Groton students, he knew he had two loves: books and football.
To achieve both his dreams, Green told the students, he had to work harder than those around him.
“In fact, I worked so hard people thought there was something wrong with me,” Green said.
In school, Green said he would keep running even after he vomited during practice.
“My teammates were like, ‘Dude, that’s disgusting,’” Green said to the laughing children.
In class, Green said he would sit in the center of the front row to catch every word the teacher said.
“It kind of confuses me when people don’t want to work hard in school,” he said, telling the children that what they achieve even in elementary school will affect the opportunities they have in the future. “Now is the time to start working in school.”
After graduating from Liverpool high School and Syracuse University, Green was recruited by the Atlanta Falcons.
During his football career, Green said he started writing his first book and went back to Syracuse University for his law degree during the off-season.
“Because here’s the thing about sports: they always, always leave you,” Green said. For most students, sports will end after high school, he said. For a few, it might end after college and for even less it will end after a career. “Then when sports abandon you, you are whatever you created here in school.”
Green said his first novels were suspense novels for adults, but he started writing stories for children after a publisher told him that a page-turning children’s book set in the sports world would attract children to reading.
One of the most meaningful things about writing, Green said, is receiving emails from boys and girls who say they never read a book before but read one of his sports books all the way through.
“This is like weightlifting for your brain,” Green said of reading, adding that reading every day for just 20 minutes will help students in all subjects, not just English.
Reading also helps children develop empathy, Green said.
“When you’re reading, you’re putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, and you realize what’s on the outside doesn’t matter,” he said.
In order for all the students who attended the talk to have a copy of his book “First Team” to take home, Green used his presentation fee to pay for the books, said Monica Dykeman, vice president of the Groton Parent Teacher Organization and vice president of Groton’s Board of Education.
The PTO wanted to invite Green to talk at the school as the Skaneateles resident is a “hometown hero,” she said.
Groton voters also won a Facebook contest last year to be one of the locations in Green’s new book, she said.
Groton students said after the presentation they enjoyed Green’s talk.
“I thought maybe he was a good author and should write more books,” said Mattison Lucey, a 9-year-old fourth-grader. “Because I think people (would) get inspired if he writes more books.”
“I’ve never seen an author here at the school or anywhere else before,” said Caden Sommer, a 9-year-old avid reader and fourth-grader. “I think this is a really awesome experience ...”

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