Recently, RB Rashad Jennings spoke to students in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting at Alameda High School. Jennings spent time telling his story and interacting with the students.
“This is an outreach event today trying to reach out to student athletes and let them understand what part faith has in their growth as young men, young women,” explained Alameda High’s Athletic Director and club sponsor Brad Thomas. “Also, everybody comes in and talks about the struggles they’ve overcome and kind of sends a message about academics, about faith, about hard work, perseverance, those type of things.”
Jennings wanted to come in and be real with the students about what he has overcome and the reasons he has been able to be successful. “I came out to Alameda High School to just speak some kind of inspiration into some kids,” said Jennings. “I told them that I was talking to them from a brother standpoint, that it was open house, very candid with them. Just shared my story of my humbling beginnings. Hoping I was planting the seed that somebody else will water at some point.”
Thomas was impressed with Jennings’ ability to connect with the students. “I like that he was real with them,” said Thomas. “I like how he was real with, ‘My grades were terrible and I decided to turn a corner as opportunity.’ I totally believe that that to say his quote again, ‘When opportunity comes knocking, it’s too late to prepare for it.’ I think that’s so perfect as a coach, as a dad, as a Christian. You’re preparing all the time for things. So I think he had a really good message that made sense to the people that were there."
RB Rashad Jennings speaks to the students. Photo by Tony Gonzales
That message was one that Jennings really focused on during his time with the FCA. “Really, something that is still strong to me, is when opportunity presents itself, it’s too late to prepare for it,” said Jennings. “My role as a player I even feel take that to the game with me. You never know, at all times you have to be ready.”
Rachel Zenobia, Alameda High’s FCA president, who will be attending Jennings’ alma mater Liberty in the fall, was happy with the turnout and the messages Jennings relayed to the students. “I really liked that he’s into having a family connection; that’s really important to me also,” said Zenobia. “[The turnout] was really good. It’s better than most of our meetings. Most of them are a lot smaller, so it was awesome.”
Thomas believes Jennings visit will have a lasting impact on some of the students. “I think it means a lot,” said Thomas. “Somebody that they’re going to see on TV and to say, ‘He spoke at our gym and he talked about getting grades up and being a good person. He talked about having a faith and being more than just making money and preparing for down the road.’ We have kids that are here that just want to play football; they don’t want to go to school. You can’t play football if you don’t go to school. So I think hearing those things from somebody that’s going to be a role model to them is awesome.”
Jennings is passionate about giving back and was glad he was able to spend time at Alameda High. “It’s truly is a part of me,” said Jennings. “A lot of people thanked me for coming, but I thanked them for allowing me because life makes sense then.”