YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Students at Kirkmere Middle School in Youngstown got some life tips from a couple of big names in the NFL.
Former NFL kickers Paul McFadden and Jeff Wilkins spoke to the students during a middle school assembly on Friday.
The two players talked about their experiences on and off the field, focusing on good decision making, education and overcoming adversity.
“We just try to stress to them overcoming adversity. Success is easy to handle, but we all have failures in our our life. We let them know that we’ve had failures,” said McFadden. “Just learning to press on in the face of adversity.”
Wilkens said one of the most important messages he wants to impress on the students is to be careful who you hang around with.
“I remember being their age and having speakers come in and talk to us, and I took bits and pieces from what they said,” said Wilkens. “At a certain age growing up you have to surround yourself with the right people if you can. The earlier they learn that the better.”
Intervention Specialist Stacey Spahn said she invited Wilkins and McFadden to speak to the students because junior high is a critical time in their education and in their lives.
“The junior high population is at risk right now. They will take one road or the other, and it’s important to get them at this grade to make the right decisions,” said Spahn.
Seventh-grader Jauwan Tate said listening to Wilkens and McFadden reinforced what he already knows about succumbing to peer pressure and staying on track.
“I was inspired to stay away from people that are bad and just go on the right path,” said Tate.
McFadden earned a Bachelor Degree at Youngstown State University and Master Degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He gained recognition at the collegiate level as a kicker with the YSU Penguins and became widely known for his barefoot kicking style.
McFadden later went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and spent his final years in the NFL with the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. He is currently the President of the YSU Foundation.
Wilkins was also a star YSU Penguins kicker and went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.