ATHLETICS: Marshall, Moss pass along lessons to young athletes
THE WOODLANDS - The percentage of athletes that make it to the professional ranks is incredibly small, but proper training and guidance can make a big impact on the trajectory of a young athlete’s career.
Wednesday at The Woodlands Country Club Legacy Ballroom, CHI ST. Luke’s hosted a panel loaded with top-level athletes, health care professionals and other experts in the world of sports, that tried to pass along some insight from their own journeys to a room full of young athletes and their parents.
The big names on the panel were New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall, former NFL receiver Santana Moss and Olympic diver Kassidy Cook.
Rounding out the panel were former NFL receiver Sinorice Moss; former player and front office executive Ran Carthon; medical professionals Thomas R. Hunt III and Matthew Hammit; local athletic trainer Derrick Jonkins; and NFLPA counsel Joe Briggs.
Before the 10 pros took their spots on the panel, they had the chance to tour CHI St. Luke’s and interact with some of the young athletes in various drills and activities.
For Marshall, interacting with the kids on that level was a highlight of his day.
“It was good to see them having a good time,” he said. “It was just fun to get out there. Santana still thinks he has it, and there were a couple of times where he tackled some kids and shook some kids, but it was fun.”
During the earlier part of the day, Santana Moss had the opportunity to talk to The Woodlands senior wide receiver KeSean Carter. Moss told the young pass catcher to seize every opportunity and enjoy the ride.
“A lot of these kids don’t realize that they have so many opportunities that we didn’t have,” Moss said. “With the opportunities he has, I’m sure he will be able to go anywhere he wants to go. I told him to enjoy it and make sure he is focused on his goals.”
Throughout the afternoon, Moss consistently stressed the importance of recognizing opportunities and seizing them.
In college, Moss began his career with the Miami Hurricanes as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship after the third game of the season.
Moss went on to play in the NFL for 14 seasons between the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins.
“For these kids to listen to us and hear about our journeys is a blessing to them, and it’s a blessing for me to be able to share it with them,” Moss said. “I know that the opportunities weren’t the same, and I hope that just one kid can get the message, and then 10 to 15 years down the road, he can share that message to someone else.”
A major theme throughout the panel was physical and mental health. Marshall, who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2010, co-founded Project 375, which aims to provide support for individuals living with mental illness and to end the stigma attached to mental health.
“It is funny that we neglect that one thing that makes up 70 percent of our sport - that’s our mind, that’s our mindset, our mental toughness,” Marshall said. “We have to make sure we are healthy all the way around. I just want to see our athletes take care of themselves on and off the field.”
Marshall played collegiate football for University of Central Florida before being drafted in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos. He has since played for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, and is now a member of the Giants. He has 941 catches for more than 12,000 yards and 82 touchdowns over his 12-year career.
While the overarching theme of the day was going pro, every panel member made sure to talk about life after sports.
Marshall also took care to mention that no matter how far an athlete’s career can go, it is important to be in the moment and appreciate playing at whatever level it may be.
For the six-time Pro Bowler, nothing has been quite the same as his time catching passes at Lake Howell High School.
“I’ve played at the highest level and done some amazing things, but there is never a better experience than youth sports,” he said. “They need to enjoy it. They are really playing the sport at the purest level with their buddies, and they need to embrace it and enjoy it.”