Of the hundreds of thousands of American student-athletes that hope to break into professional sports, about one-percent make a living out of it.
“Out of all of the people in here, how many do you think will actually make it to the pros?” asked a student from West Side High School.
New York Giants safety Michael Thomas told students it starts with a strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom.
“It’s going to be up to you,” said Thomas. “Not even the pros, just college to get a scholarship and make it there. You have to believe in that or will you listen to the statistics, all of that stuff and let that deter you where you won’t even grind and work for it.”
Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, the Giants second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft spent four years in college with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He says good grades helped create opportunities.
“The books are everything because if you don’t have the grades then you can’t get to go to the dream school that you always wanted to go to,” said Tomlinson. “I always wanted to go to Harvard. I denied the scholarship offer I had to go to Harvard, so I can go to Alabama and play football. So, I would say make sure you focus on the books because one day you’re going to have to hang the cleats up and you want to be able to do something you want to do. My biggest thing is to keep your head in the books.”
Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon told students his biggest regret transitioning from college to the pros was declaring early for the NFL Draft.
“Out of us three, I never graduated from college,” Vernon said. “I want to go back and get my degree because at the end of the day when I do have kids, hopefully I have kids, I want to be a prime example of whenever you start something you finish it. That’s how it is, that’s life. You don’t ever want to have a label on you that you don’t put one-hundred percent into everything that you do.”
Police Officer Yolander Graham with the Newark Bronze Shields coordinated the event. She hopes students realize it takes more than athletic ability to make it in sports.
“The most important part is remembering your next step. You have to have a plan because high school is not the end.”