2005-11-18 / Community

J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!

By Elisa Viesta, Bishop Kearney High School

Pictured: Jovan Witherspoon with some of his Kearney fans: Mary Cullen, Meaghan Ulon, Liz Hayden, Jill Bardo, Mary Lograno (of Belle Harbor) and Dana Gearity.Pictured: Jovan Witherspoon with some of his Kearney fans: Mary Cullen, Meaghan Ulon, Liz Hayden, Jill Bardo, Mary Lograno (of Belle Harbor) and Dana Gearity.

Several weeks ago, Bishop Kearney had a celebrity visitor, Jovan Witherspoon of the New York Jets. Thanks to the efforts of Louis Protano’s winning the Daily News/Jets Newspaper in Education Program contest, students had an opportunity to formally meet Witherspoon. He spoke to a small group of students discussing the importance of proper eating and nutrition. When he approached the podium, he was extremely gracious and greeted the crowd warmly, with an extremely pleased Mr. Protano at his side.

He proceeded to encourage the girls to stay away from drugs and smoking, telling them, “It’s all about living right.” Using nutrition and the effects of substance abuse, he demonstrated the key role it plays in his career, saying that without following a healthy lifestyle and respecting his body, his career would be seriously lacking.

The question many had was, “How do you simply say ‘no’ in situations where alcohol is present?” He said he just surrounds himself with good people. Most of his friends are married, as is he, and they usually go out and do “married people stuff.”

He discussed football and the position he plays (receiver). Then the girls got to ask him questions, and the conversation soon shifted. We found out that he is married, extremely in love with and devoted to his wife, and would like to someday start a family. “My wife comes first…football will only last for so many years, but you’re supposed to be with your wife forever.” After saying this, the crowd seemed, in unison, to express their understanding and utter approval.

Many of the girls wanted to know what it was like to play football professionally and how it affected his life. He said that it was very difficult to find a happy medium. There was much practice, working out and planning involved in each game.

Another topic he continued to discuss was his father, who was clearly a dominant force in his life. “My role model is my father. He’s a great man. From the time I was eight years old, I knew that I wanted to play professional football like him. Actually, I wanted to be better than him.”

Witherspoon also encouraged the girls to realize how blessed they are and not to take things for granted. God is obviously a strong force in his life.

At first, I was rather skeptical about what he would say to us, but after hearing him speak I have gained much from him. He truly put himself out there; he spoke to us as himself, not as some “spokesperson.” He was honest and seemed to have fun talking with people. I wish the Jets the best of luck this year, and hope Jovan Witherspoon reaches all the wonderful goals he has set for himself.

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