You reap what you sow.
DeMoine Adams likes the phrase. Not only because of how it resonates in an agricultural state, but also because he believes it's 100 percent true.
Adams spoke Friday at Schuyler Middle School, first in front of the teachers, then the students.
He encouraged the teachers to become HEROs, which means instilling hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism in students.
“I want to inspire you to become heroes, to become life coaches, to become farmers of potential,” he said.
A member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln football team from 1998 to 2002, Adams recalled the struggles he had making the team, and the teachers who helped him reach his goals. Growing up in Arkansas, he was determined to attend UNL and become the first member of his household to graduate from college.
Having failed the ACT test six times before getting a 21 on his final attempt, Adams credits his guidance counselor for pushing him to achieve his dream.
“Students don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said. “When you care about their EQ and their IQ, guess what? That’s when they will care about their future.”
Hope, he said, gives students a sense of belief. He said hope is the expectation that good things will happen. He said hope is an ingredient for good grades and high achievement levels.
“When a student has hope, they have a reason to be the best,” Adams said.
There is failure among educators to maximize the potential of students, he said. As a result, students fail to see the connection between their schoolwork and how it applies to everyday life.
Adams encouraged the teachers to instill confidence and strength in their students.
“Let them know it's OK to be themselves, to be authentic,” he said.
Resilience is the next piece of the puzzle, he said, and something he has struggled with throughout his life.
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He recalled graduating from UNL and expecting to be drafted into the NFL. He heard a lot of negative comments about how he was undersized and wouldn’t cut it in professional football.
Encouragement from his English teacher helped him pursue his professional football dream.
“I was able to get back up and keep pushing,” he said.
He pushed himself, flying to NFL tryouts all over the country, and six months later he was picked up by the Green Bay Packers.
Optimism is the last ingredient to become a HERO. It applies to both students and teachers.
“What you see, is what they get,” he said.
Having a positive attitude is the only way students will be successful, Adams said.
Adams is originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was a three-year starting defensive end for the Huskers.
He played five years of professional football, with stints in the CFL, NFL and AFL.
He received his bachelor’s degree in political science with minors in English, history, communications, ethnic studies and African studies.
Adams said he has a mentor in Aaron Davis, who also gives talks on creating success.
“He was the one to help me transition when I first came to Nebraska,” Adams said. “He helped me know what I brought to the table.”
Adams said it was Davis who helped him discover his potential as a motivational speaker and giving back in a positive way.