Celtics Host Event at Timilty Middle School

ROXBURY – The auditorium at Timilty Middle School was rocking Tuesday afternoon with cheers from 700 students who took part in the Stay in School assembly, presented by Arbella.

Celtics Legend Walter McCarty, Director of Community Relations and Player Development Matt Meyersohn and Player Development Coordinator Keyon Dooling joined Celtics players Jason Collins and Jared Sullinger to talk to the students about the acronym P.R.I.D.E. (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Decisions, Education).

The assembly coincides with an ongoing attendance program with all Boston Middle Schools. Students who have perfect attendance receive a prize from the Celtics each month. The assemblies help to reinforce the importance of going to school every day and taking education seriously. More than anything else, the school assemblies provide an inside glimpse into the lives of Celtics players. Celtics players convey the trials and tribulations of their life, which assists in teaching the youth that they need to persevere, have respect, live their lives with integrity, make the right decisions, and take full advantage of their education.

To that end, Collins spoke to the students about the hardships he endured in basketball his first two years in college.

“I went to Stanford, one of the top schools in the nation, to play basketball and got hurt my freshman year,” remembered Collins. “I ended up having two knee surgeries and that year was done. My second year early in the season a point guard took my legs out from underneath me. I put my shooting hand down to soften the fall and I dislocated my wrist. You have eight bones in your wrist. Seven of mine moved out of position. My sophomore year was done.

“When I got out of the cast and back onto the court I stood right underneath the basket. I took a basketball, shot it and didn’t have enough strength in my arm, wrist and hand to get the ball up to the rim. So I had to persevere. I had to work hard to get back to where I was. I was one of the top high school players in the country but got hurt my first two years in college. When I got back to the court, through a lot of hard work, I became a better shooter, and after my surgery I became a better shooter than I was before. A lot of you will have adversity in your life. Whatever adversity you have in your life, just look at it as an opportunity to overcome it and to work through it. Rely on your support system - parents, teachers and coaches. Continue to persevere to get better.”

Sullinger took the youth back to his high school days by describing a story that changed his life forever.

“What’s the one thing you need to do as an athlete?” asked the rookie forward. “The one thing you need to do is make right decisions. Everything you do is under a microscope. That’s what I’m here to talk about. You have to make the right decisions. Period. Point. Blank. I’m going to take you back to where I made the wrong decisions.

“Sophomore year in high school I thought I was the man. No one could tell me anything. I forgot that without school there is no basketball. I slacked off in my classes and my grades reflected my poor performance. My father was my high school head basketball coach. I had to play for my father. You don’t understand how tough that was. As I’m not doing my class assignments, I think I’m the man. Next thing you know eighth period comes around and the intercom comes on telling me to come to the principal’s office. I’m like, ‘I know I didn’t do anything. I’m denying it all!’ Next thing you know, the athletic director is sitting in the office with the principal and my dad. My dad takes his bifocal glasses off and says, ‘I can’t believe you.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on? What did I do?’ They had my grades sitting right there: D, D, C, D and an A in art, but then there were more D’s and C’s. My dad said I couldn’t play the next game.”

Sullinger’s story was already powerful, but he took it to another level as he continued on.

“We were in the District Semis, a few games away from the state championship game. I was sad. I said, ‘Dad you can’t do that.’ He said, ‘Right now I’m not your dad, I’m your coach.’ We get to the game and I’m sitting on the bench. Every media camera was on me. I wasn’t playing in the game but they still were watching my every move. We end up losing the game and all the papers the next day said we lost with me sitting on the bench. That’s where decisions fall back on. You’ve got to make the right decisions. Without that situation right there, I wouldn’t be here right now. From there on, I made the right decisions and now I’m here with you all.”

Those were two influential stories that Collins and Sullinger relayed. There was no doubt that the youth in the crowd absorbed all of the information from those two players relayed. Maybe as a result of this assembly, these students will one day be able to tell a similar story about their lives.