Tony Dungy has a variety of topics he can speak on, depending on the audience. So when the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach addressed hundreds of Woodland Park High School student-athletes last Friday, he spoke about community and purpose.
“It’s exciting to be here,” Dungy said as he paced the stage of Dickson Auditorium. “I put myself in your guys’ shoes a long time ago when I went to a very similar high school in a small town in the middle of Michigan.
“My parents were both teachers, and they would not let me play (sports) if I didn’t take care of the other things. I had to do the right things at home. I had to do the right things in school. And that was just a fun time for me.”
Dungy stressed the importance of a purposeful life and living in the present.
“When I was your age, it was like, ‘I can’t wait for high school to be over,’” Dungy said. “And when I got to college, ‘I can’t wait for college to be over.’ And then, ‘I can’t wait for college to be over, and I can get out and maybe go to the NFL, or get out and start making money.’
“Enjoy this part of your life. You have plenty of time to go to college or plenty of time to go and make money. Some of my best memories and best relationships I have are from high school And I am still close to the guys I played with in high school. Don’t take that for granted and make sure you thank the Lord for it.”
Dungy spoke for about 35 minutes and received a standing ovation. He also took time to pose for photos with students and staff.
Dungy was in town as one of two headline speakers at the Charis Bible College Men’s Advance. He was joined at the assembly by James Brown, the host of The NFL Today on CBS Sports, as well as Charis founder and evangelist Andrew Wommack.
“It’s an honor to have these guys,” Wommack said. “There are people who would never listen to a preacher, but they impacted these young guys in such a way that if I ever got up in front of them, they would have never listened to me.
“Praise God! He told these young men and young women there’s more to life that just sports.”
Dungy’s resume is long and full of monumental accomplishments. He is one of a handful of players to win a Super Bowl as a player and coach. He is best known now as an analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America.
Dungy’s speech to the Woodland Park students seemed to have a profound effect on several of the school’s football players.
“I liked that Coach Dungy said you need to look forward, but also stay focused on high school,” said sophomore wide receiver Bryson Cox. “And you need to follow through on getting your degree from college.”
Sophomore quarterback Colin Kucera said he was also motivated by what Dungy had to say.
“Work as a team on and off the field together. Help each other in the classroom. Hang out with each other more. That makes the brotherhood and bond stronger,” Kucera said.
Added sophomore linebacker Darren Genger: “He talked about all the experiences he had as a player and used that in a coaching career to really make a difference in people’s lives. And mainly how life is bigger than just football.”
Woodland Park football coach and athletic director Joe Roskam introduced Dungy and was one of the many people to have a photo taken with him.
Woodland Park mayor and high school baseball coach Neil Levy organized the event.
“Coach Dungy was just what I expected,” Levy said. “He talked about everybody but himself. And he was the most successful person in that room.
“Being selfless and being a teammates are two things we always try to teach our kids along with leadership. And he did that.”