Joffre WashingtonWith the recent success former Yazoo City High School standout Fletcher Cox has achieved, undoubtedly many youngsters around Yazoo City will start to ask the questions, "Can I do it," or "How did he do it?"
The answer to the first question is yes. The latter question, however, has many answers. God-given talent? Yes. A superior work ethic? You know it. Desire and dedication? Without a doubt. But perhaps the most important thing that Fletcher Cox says landed him where he is today, the 12th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, is that he listened.
Sounds like a small, miniscule thing that wouldn't seem to be the catalyst that led Cox to achieve his NFL dreams, right? But that's exactly the message Cox conveyed to the student-athletes in attendance at last week's Yazoo City High School Athletics Banquet. Cox, the guest of honor, was on-hand at the banquet to watch as his No. 54 jersey was retired by the school. (Cox's No. 54 now joins Larry Kramer's No. 20 and Desmond Johnson's No.7 as numbers that will never again be worn by another Yazoo City High School football player).
As he spoke to the crowd, he talked about the importance of how listening to his coaches, teachers and the adults in his life led him to where he is today.
When YHS head football coach Tony Woolfolk first asked him to play flag football about 10 years ago, he listened. Once he entered high school and defensive line coach Kyle Wallace told him that he would have to make some sacrifices along the way to his goal, he listened. Whether is was going to be getting up at the crack of dawn to run or staying late after practice for extra time in the weight room, he listened. When his teachers told him to focus on his academics, he listened. When his older brother told him to stay away from the negativity in the streets, he listened.
Had it not been for his willingness to listen, who knows how his story would have turned out. We've all heard of countless stories of athletes who had all the talent in the world and were headed for stardom, but never reached their goals. Why? Along the way, at some point, they probably didn't take the time to listen to some piece of advice that someone was trying to give them.
Bug (short for bug-eye, Cox's nickname) told the kids, some who he even played with, that when a teacher, coach or adult tells you something, you should listen. They're not trying to hurt you. They're trying to help you, he said, because they've probably been down that same road before. That message applies to all students, not just athletes with NFL, NBA or MLB dreams.
So the message is simple kids. Listen. It's the first step to success in the classroom, the field or court and in life. You have to listen. Listening got Fletcher Cox to the NFL. Where could it get you?