The sport of football is ever-evolving.
With that so to does the education of the sport both on the field, as well as in the classroom as student-athletes at all levels continue to deal with outside factors which can at times hinder their progress both in athletics and academics.
Monday afternoon the NFL, Arizona State and a group of high school coaches and athletic directors gathered at Arizona State to participate in the Super Bowl XLIX High School and Collegiate Coaches Forum.
The purpose was simple: to assist high school coaches on how to become better mentors and role models. The four-hour discussion featured a number of former Arizona State and NFL players like Andrew Walter and Adam Archuleta, as well as ASU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director Jean Boyd and Arizona Cardinals Director of Engagement Anthony Edwards.
“I think it’s very beneficial,” 2014 state championship Centennial head coach Richard Taylor told Sports360AZ.com about the event. “When you’re here with other people who love the game I think it’s good to share ideas.”
The former Sun Devil stars Walter and Archuleta told honest, humbling experiences of being the “coddled athlete” who rarely had to handle everyday responsibilities. Walter, now a financial advisor, admitted he didn’t know how to write a check until he was halfway through college.
“I was very unprepared for life and the real world,” Archuleta bluntly explained. “Because I was a good athlete in some respects I was sheltered a little bit. Things we kind of taken care of for [me].”
The panel of educators also included the CEO of M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), Debbie Weir who conveyed bone-chilling facts about college drinking which is, in some way, responsible for close to 2000 deaths per year.
Other topics discussed included the pitfalls and temptations of social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and how many colleges, including ASU and the University of Arizona are constantly monitoring and educating student-athletes on their accounts.
Stanford alum and 12-year NFL veteran Chris Draft believes the high school coaches’ impact and mentorship continues to pay dividends through college and even to the select few who reach the NFL.
“Players who earn degrees will play longer and make higher salaries,” he said. “You’re investing in your NFL career, as well as your life.”