“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
— John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States
An A+ to Joseph “Joe” Anderson, a special education teacher at Green Intermediate School (grades 4-6) and the Green High freshman football coach, and to the players and students who are part of awe-inspiring life lessons on and off the field.
The Green native, who recently returned there after teaching seven years in Florida, at first had some of his football players read to his students every Friday afternoon. Then it mushroomed into other projects.
“It just took off,” Anderson said. “Soon they were building model cars together and making up poems together.
“Assistant freshman football coach Mark Resanovich even purchased T-shirts for my students … They say ‘Green Football’ on the front and ‘Lil’ Bulldogs’ on the back. The kids wear them every Friday and write good-luck letters to the team …
“When we played Wadsworth our players escorted the students onto the field and they did the coin toss … I think it’s pretty neat!”
Anderson said the team is so invested in the younger students’ successes that they often ask when they see him at practice, “How are the kids?”
Anderson said the athletes’ involvement has led to a domino effect, inspiring others.
“The principal Mark Booth is always saying ‘Everybody can be a leader,’ ” Anderson said. “We’re seeing that played out in the football players and the kids.”
Quarterback Tanner Montgomery certainly gets that. “Coach Anderson always asks our team what it means to be a Bulldog. I think I have figured out the true meaning. Being a Bulldog is being a great student athlete but, more importantly, giving back to the community. … It always makes me feel good when I see smiles on all of these kids’ faces and I am sure my teammates would agree.”
Running back James Angel is on the same page.
“This program has shown me what it truly means to be a leader! Coach Anderson has instilled in us that when we decide to become a Bulldog, we become Bulldogs for life! That means Bulldogs are the leaders and we want to make sure these students know they can be leaders too.”
Principal Booth — a cheerleader for the alliance Anderson has established — said he finds it “amazing” that the same leadership skills the players have on the football field are being passed along to other children.
“They’ve established a huge giving-back attitude,” Booth said. “And the students look up to them like they’re professional football players … It’s just very warming to see that the [older] kids care enough to come back and give back …
“Joe is himself all about giving back,” Booth continued. “He’s brand new to the school and the position. But he’s already trying to make a connection with the kids … Our school motto is all about leadership. And nothing says more than leading by example. Leaders give back and he does constantly.”
The football season recently ended, but the relationship between the students and football players has continued, as the players hosted a Halloween party for the students.
Anderson said the freshman team finished its season 8-1 and was, drum roll please, Suburban League Freshmen Champs.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.