Thursday, February 6, 2014
North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin calls him the best football player he has ever been around. In addition to that, according to Pippin, he is an even better person.
Dekoda Watson, who played for Pippin while at South Aiken, stopped by Hammond Hill Elementary School on Friday morning. The former Thoroughbred went on to play collegiality at Florida State University. These days, he plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – the same team that drafted him in the seventh round in 2010. As the Buccaneer walked through the hallways of Hammond Hill, he was greeted with students lining the hall cheering and holding out their hands for high-fives.
Watson told the fifth-graders who had gathered in the school’s cafeteria about making the most of their opportunities. He told them the importance of their GPA and said that when he got to high school his was so low he had to go to summer school every year.
“I had to take night classes, I had to take computer classes, I had to take tutoring sessions, SAT classes and all kinds of stuff to raise my GPA,” he said. “I really don’t want any of you guys to go through that. I want you to experience middle school life when you guys get there, and I don’t want you guys to think that you have a lot of time. Time is your enemy – it’s always going against you and you have to make the most of it.”
He also went on to tell students the importance of their collegiate degrees.
“If I walk off this stage and to my car and break my leg, and it ends my career, what do I have to fall back on?,” he asked the students. “ ... I was able to graduate early with a social sciences degree. It’s not necessarily the degree that I want; that’s why I am going back to get my master’s once I am done with football. I feel like that is going to open up more doors and opportunities for me later in life. I want to be able to work outside of football. You’ve got to have plan after plan after plan.”
Watson told the students to first get a foundation and to set dreams and goals for what they want to achieve.
“Take everything that people tell you, from adults to teachers, and know that they are looking out for you,” he said. “The main thing is to get your education and to ultimately have fun.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard.
Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.