Huguenot Running Back Runs Scampers Past Adversity to Excellence
June 26, 2009Virginia
DALLAS, June 26, 2009 - The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today that Quinton Watson, a junior running back from Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia, has claimed top honors as the Play It Smart National Student-Athlete of the Month for April.
"We are proud to hold Quinton out as an example of football's ability to build leaders," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "He is a well-rounded student-athlete who has capitalized on all the opportunities that exist at Huguenot, and we look forward to following his career as he continues his record of achievements at the next level."
Waston, an honor roll student and active volunteer for the Westover Hills Community Center, has excelled as a three-sport star in football, basketball, and track at Huguenot, and he credits his participation in Play It Smart with helping him identify his goals to attend college and pursue a career in either sports medicine or physical therapy.
"Play It Smart has genuinely helped Quinton to understand the value of an education, the concept of responsibility, and giving to others," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "We applaud his new determination and wish him the best of luck during his senior season."
Play It Smart has been active at Huguenot since 2002 and continues to play an integral role in the lives and futures of the school's student-athletes. Watson has embraced Play It Smart and the rigorous requirements set forth by his academic coach Louis Anderson and head football coach Ron Gundry (a former Academic Coach). His strong work ethic, willingness to always help others, and determination to be successful in sports as well as in life led Anderson to nominate Watson for the award.
"Quinton has played a powerful role on our team, leading by example and always embracing the high standards that we set," said Anderson. "Being recognized for a national award is a fitting tribute to his hard word and contributions to our team on and off the field."
With a grade point average exceeding a 3.0 and earning district honorable mention on the field as a freshman, Watson began his high school career on the right track. He had positioned himself to become a standout varsity player and the Falcons' starting running back until he suffered a broken left femur during his sophomore year. The injury prevented him from participating in any sports, and he lost focus off the field too.
"When I broke my leg I was really upset, and I completely shut down. I didn't know how to deal with the injury, and my grades suffered," explained Watson. "At the time of my injury, I was taking several advanced core classes, but I didn't know how to study properly and my work ethic wasn't at the level that I needed to be a successful student. Play It Smart helped me realize that things don't always workout with sports, and that you need to have a backup plan."
Watson began to work with his academic coach and teachers to improve his time management and study skills. His renewed focus produced an increase in his GPA from a 2.9 to a 3.4 during the 2008-2009 academic year, and this past fall he returned to the field rushing for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
"Q [Quinton] is a good kid. He is dedicated, ambitious, works hard in the weight room, is a good teammate, and never complains," said Coach Gundry. "He's dependable, and we expect to see big things from him next year."
In the community, Watson has participated in food drives, campus clean-ups and volunteered at Westover Hills where he hands out snacks, reads, and mentors younger kids.
"It is important to get involved in your community and help others that are in need. Not everyone is as fortunate as you," said Watson. "The team really depends on Play It Smart, not only does it help us stay eligible, but it holds us accountable and gives us requirements, shows the team that we are students first. We all want to play sports at the next level, and to do that we've learned that you have to separate yourself from other athletes to get recruited, and it all starts with academics and being a well-rounded person."
Each month the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame honors one student-athlete as the Play It Smart Student-Athlete of the Month. Winners are selected from nominations received by academic coaches from 160 schools in 33 states. At the end of the school year the "Student-Athlete of the Year" will be selected from the monthly winners to be honored at the annual Play It Smart National Conference.
Play It Smart would like to recognize each of the student-athletes nominated for the April 2009 National Student-Athlete of the Month Award.
April 2009 National Student- Athlete of the Month Award Nominees
Student-Athlete High School/City/State Year
Sheteka Battle Pearl- Cohn/Nashville, TN JR
Adarius Bloxom Woodlawn Magnet/Birmingham, AL SR
Duane Brown Ben Davis/Indianapolis, IN SR
Franci Bueno New Brunswick/New Brunswick, NJ FR
Dontrell Butler Furr/Houston, TX SO
Dominick Cano Waltrip/Houston, TX SO
JeromeConey North Plainfield/North Plainfield, NJ JR
Alexis Crooks James Madison/Houston, TX SR
Bianca Deleon Austin/Houston, TX SR
Francisco Deleon Jones/Houston, TX SO
Neal Dennison Lamar/Houston, TX SR
David Dziuba Port Richmond/Staten Island, NY JR
Dara Eng Worthing/Houston, TX SR
Jamal Fenton Cesar Chavez/Houston, TX SR
David Fisher George Washington/South Bend, IN JR
Sam Flood North Plainfield/North Plainfield, NJ JR
Deysi Fuentes Furr/Houston, TX FR
Kyle Geraci Troy/Troy, NY SO
Angelique Hernandez Mescalero Apache/Mescalero, NM SR
Vincent Hill George Washington/South Bend, IN JR
Reco Hollis South Atlanta/Atlanta, GA JR
Nicholas Hudson Worthing/Houston, TX SR
Omaru Kabia Port Richmond/Staten Island, NY JR
Michael Kelly Carteret/Carteret, NJ FR
Ryon Ligon John Adams/South Bend, IN SR
Curtis Madden George Washington/Denver, CO SR
Sarah Madson American Leadership Academy/Spanish Fork, UT JR
Monique Mediola Austin/Houston, TX SR
Marcus Miles Westbury/Houston, TX SR
Kenny Millington Abraham Lincoln/Brooklyn, NY SO
Jenzel Nash Worthing/Houston, TX SO
Willie Parker III Armstrong/Richmond, VA JR
Nick Pettiwelli New Brunswick/New Brunswick, NJ SO
Jordan Phillips Fulton/Knoxville, TN SR
Stefan Phelps Heritage/Lynchburg, VA SR
Travious Porter Carver/Atlanta, GA SO
Carlos Reguerio Scarborough/Houston, TX SR
Robert Reyes Austin/Houston, TX JR
Selena Sanchez Furr/Houston, TX SO
Kory Stamp Lawrence North/Indianiapolis, IN JR
Collins-Johnson Stelle Hubbard/Chicago, IL FR
Anne Taylor Waltrip/Houston, TX SR
Jordan Tibbs South Shore/Chicago, IL SO
Raymond Vargas Sterling/Houston, TX SR
Jesse Vega Furr/Houston, TX JR
Rebecca Villarreal Cesar Chavez/Houston, TX SR
Quinton Watson Huguenot/Richmond, VA JR
With major financial support from a broad-coalition of school districts, corporations, individuals and organizations, including the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the Play It Smart program achieved dramatic results that include:
• 95% of seniors graduating high school, compared to 76% of their peers;
• 80% of seniors enrolling in college compared to 63% of their peers;
• Participants completing more than 55,000 hours of community service annually;
• Participants earning more than $8 million a year in scholarships; and
• 270-plus graduates earning places among the elite collegiate ranks during the 2008 season on Division I rosters.
Launched in 1998 and proven as one of the most comprehensive and effective youth development programs in the nation, Play It Smart currently partners with more than 160 schools in 85 different cities throughout the country. The program has shown that sports, when coached in the proper environment, can be used as an effective tool for significantly enhancing the academic performance and goal-setting practices of its participants. Play It Smart fulfills its mission by facilitating the hiring and training of "Academic Coaches" who work at high schools in underserved communities during the entire school year.
The year-round Academic Coaches teach participants how to transfer the life skills learned on the playing field and apply them in the classroom and the community for success throughout their lives. Academic Coaches build on the positive peer pressure of the team and a participant's interest in football by utilizing a set of guiding principles and tactics, which are designed to make academic achievement the norm. Tactics include one-on-one goal setting meetings, career and life skills sessions, mandatory study halls, SAT/ACT prep classes, community service projects and other team building events. The success of the program requires the full support of a team's head coach, who must lend his full authority with his players to the efforts of the Academic Coach, as well as the support of the school's administration, especially the principal, the head of guidance, and the athletics director.
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Quinton Watson, a junior running back from Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia, has claimed top honors as the Play It Smart National Student-Athlete of the Month for April.
About Play It Smart
Created by The National Football Foundation as an educational program, Play It Smart has changed the lives of more than 25,000 at risk student-athlete since its launch in 1998. The program's mission is to help student-athletes take responsibility for their futures through lessons learned on the playing field, in the classroom, and in service to others. At the heart of the program is a year-round academic coach, an official member of a team's staff, who serves as a direct link to the classroom by helping players and the team set and achieve their academic and personal development goals during the entire school year. Learn more at www.PlayItSmart.org
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame:
Founded in 1947 with leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 121 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF Scholar- Athlete Alumni Association, Play It Smart, the NFF-FWAA Football Forum, the NFF Gridiron Clubs of New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles, and scholarships of over $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF awards the MacArthur Trophy, the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.