C.S. Driver Middle School kicked off its annual weeklong celebration of reading March 16 with a visit from Skaneateles author, attorney and former NFL defensive player Tim Green.
Green, whose crowded resume includes best-selling books, an eight-year run in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, a career in sports broadcasting and a law practice, said he traces his every success back to one common denominator: hard work.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a football player and a writer,” Green told an assembly of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at DMS. “So what did I do? I worked like a maniac. I ran manically. I went to the weight room religiously. You want to be the best? You’ve got to work.”
As a student growing up in Liverpool, he parked himself in the front row of desks, took plenty of notes and asked frequent questions. Mr. Green went on to study writing at Syracuse University, where he was an All-American football player for the Orangemen. After graduation, he was a first-round draft pick. During the NFL off-seasons, he went back to school to earn a law degree and also started writing. By the time he retired from football in 1994, he had published his first book and become a lawyer.
“I wasn’t the smartest or the fastest or the strongest, but I worked hard to be the best I could be,” Green said.
Mr. Green appeared in Marcellus as part of PARP (People as Reading Partners) Week, which will feature several activities to celebrate and promote reading, including a “book swap” and a chance to earn tickets for out-of-school reading.
He encouraged any non-readers in the audience to keep searching for that one book that will ignite their love of the written word. Even if it’s a book by another author, such as “Holes” by Louis Sachar, “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine, “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli and “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.
“Give a book five chapters. And if you don’t love it, really love it, then put it down – unless it’s for a school assignment,” Mr. Green said. “Go find another one. There is that book out there.”
Voracious readers not only do better in school, but also in life, he said.
“When you read other stories, you get to be other people,” he explained. “All of a sudden, you’re someone with a different skin tone, from a different religion, with a disability. And you learn what it’s like to be them.”
Green is perhaps best known for his series of popular, sports-themed novels for young adults, including “Football Genius,” “Rivals,” “Unstoppable” and “Deep Zone.” During his DMS visit, he read a chapter from his latest baseball tale, “Lost Boy,” which was published this month by HarperCollins. After the assembly, he met students and signed their copies of his books in the DMS library.
“Reading is weight-lifting for your brain,” Mr. Green said. “Students who read get smarter. Your scores go up in everything, not just English.”