This was my grand marshal speech for the Renton Homecoming 2014. My words, significant words, were drowned out by the crowd, including some students, but mainly the parents of the students who were probably attending their first game of the season. Below is an excerpt:
“You show love by how much time you spend with a person…
“That’s why we have to attend our student athletes’ games, help them with or to remember to do their school work, constantly talk to them to find out what they like and what they dislike, and find out what is important to them so as to help them achieve their goals.
“We only have them for a short period of time before they have to go out and face the world. In the meantime, we need to help build real-life super heroes. By building real life super heroes I mean build citizens that when knocked down will get back up. When knocked down on the football field, will get back up. When knocked down in the classroom will get back up and when knocked down later on in adult life…will…get…back…up!”
The Seamount League, with the exceptions of Kennedy, Lindbergh and Hazen, is becoming a throwaway league, a league that most of the high school and college scouts don’t take seriously. One high school scout told me that most of the first-team, All-League players in the Seamount league would probably only make honorable mention in some other leagues around the Puget Sound.
It pains me to say that they are partially right. Not because the athletes aren’t as good but because they quit. If they don’t like the coaching or things are not in their favor, they quit playing. They get this from their parents, who are constantly complaining about the coaches rather than making their students take some personal responsibility or helping the coach do a better job.
At some point, these student athletes have to take some responsibility for their actions. Most of these parents will not show up to games and support their athletes. Most of them will not support their athletes in the classroom.
My son, Eli Clayton, played all four years at Renton and did a fine job on the field and in the classroom. My wife and I taught him to take personal responsibility for playing football and class work. He turned out to be a great athlete, good student and tremendous citizen.
I believe that the WIAA should become proactive in this matter and stop the path these athletes are on. It should put together a voluntary course that athlete parents can take that walks them through what it takes for them to do for their student to be successful on and off the field of play. Right now, there is a pattern of helplessness and hopelessness that is occurring in our schools.
Will the WIAA step up to the plate?
Eric S. Clayton,