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Student Comments

Below are Morgantown High School students' comments about the presentation of Student Athletes Speak Out held on March 8, 2012. 
Speakers Sports Speech Titles
Shawne Alston Football Not Captured in the Past
Isaiah Bruce Football WE, Not ME
Terrell Chestnut Football The Healing Process
Marquis Lucas Football In Survival Mode
PJ Shirdan Boxing No Excuses, No Regrets

Please extend our appreciation to the athletes for coming to share their personal stories with our students. They all did an amazing job and had an impact on our students. Their messages were very inspirational. ~Donna Monahan, Teacher

1. Dear WVU Athletes,

I really enjoyed your speeches. They were well prepared and the stories kept us interested. They were inspirational and you made them memorable. I’m sure you put a lot of work into your speeches, and they sounded great. Thank you very much for coming to share your experiences with us. 
All of your speeches were relatable. It’s great how you can overcome bad events and hard times in your lives and are at better places now. I will never forget all of the quotes at the ends of your speeches. I’ll always keep hope and not give up, no matter what is happening. Life can be hard, but if we keep hope, stay strong, and try to make it better, it will get better. Your stories were all proof of this.

2. Dear WVU Student Athlete Group,

Each of your words and stories really hit me. Whenever I watch you on television or live doing the thing you love, I never really understood what fueled you to keep going. You seemed so professional and absolute, yet so passionate. I would see the passion and want but never knew where it came from. Today when you came and spoke to us, I saw what kept you going. I never realized that past the perfect plays and won games, there was so much pain. 
Every single one of your speeches had a story that was so vivid and true that I could imagine myself in your pain. To me you guys were always the big, famous athletes that had an amazing life full o f glory. I never imagined what it took to get there. 
My favorite part is how each of you were in so much pain but pulled through. The fact that even though so many people go through what you did and failed, you pulled through. 
I admired how you kept strong and once you got over the obstacles in your way, you used that experience to come and talk to people like us. I really enjoyed the stories and I know that I will never forget them. This experience and just being able to hear your stories and the lessons learned from them are something I’ll be able to relate to forever.

Best of luck to all of you and I hope whether you go into criminology, business, or whatever you choose, you won’t stop the passion in what you do.

3. To PJ: Your public speaking was excellent and you

looked like you really knew exactly what to say. It was less of a formal speech and more like you were just sharing your experiences with us. I think it’s really brave of you to go back and re-earn your scholarship. I also thought the fact that you tore your ACL 3 times and still kept going was really awesome. I know how hard it is to go through that kind of rehabilitation once, and it’s tremendous that you had the strength to go through that three times. More than that, the story you told us about your friend Garrison and what you went through with that. To be honest, losing a friend that way, I don’t even know how you did it. It’s really hard to lose someone, I know because I have. But to actually see it happen is different. Your strength to get through all of that, keep your scholarship, and make a future for yourself just sounds so amazing, and the way you told your story made it look like you’re an easygoing & hardworking person, and you don’t really give up. That’s really cool.

To the athlete whose dad was his hero: Your story was really sweet, and the way you told it made me think of my parents and everything they’ve done for me. Your experiences really brought back personal connections, and I loved the quote you had and the message you gave. Your public speaking skills are really good too. You speak really clearly and it just makes it easier to understand & listen.

To all of the athletes: I wish I had the time/space to write to each one of you because your stories were amazing and your experiences and pasts really make me feel lucky for what I have. The athlete who said only his social studies teacher/coach and the lady in the office were the only ones who believed in him, and the athlete who had to go through the death of his brother, I have no idea how you did it. To this day, your strength & bravery are commendable, and I’m really thankful you could all come share your stories with us.

I hope other people get to hear about these too, and the fact that you’re all near, studying & doing athletics, is so much more than most people can handle. You guys are an example of true strength, and I hope you’re all successful with whatever you do. Especial the athlete who wants to become the lawyer!!

4. Dear student athletes,

I quite enjoyed all of your speeches. They were meaningful and heartfelt. Now I may not be a football fan, but you fellows sure scored a touchdown with these speeches.

But in all seriousness, I appreciate what you guys shared with us. I was surprised about how open you all were. Some of you seemed a tad timid, but you shouldn’t, the message you were sending was great. Not only the messages you said, but the hidden one…that no matter where you came from you can make something of yourself. 
It was also inspirational how some of you shared your love for the Lord in an open way. Keep on keeping on.

5. Dear WVU student athletes.

Your speeches were very inspirational to me. All of you did a great job I know I couldn’t do something like that, I’m so terrified of public speaking. All of your stories really touched me, all that you guys have been through your all still trying your hardest and got through it all. I haven’t been through anything really bad in my life, which I’m very thankful for but I do have an autistic brother and that makes things rough sometimes especially with my family. But you guys today really inspired me to stay strong and try my hardest in school because I wanna go to W.V.U when I graduate and hopefully go into criminal justice. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

6. Dear WVU student athletes,

I was very inspired by all of your speeches. All of you talked about how you got to WVU and the trials on the way to getting here. I thought the first one of you that spoke I could really relate to because I used to go to a Christian school and I am strong in my faith. Your creed from your old school was very inspiring. Shawne Alston you had a very inspiring speech and I really enjoyed how you got out of juvenile detention and straightened out your life and got to WVU.

The one of you that talked about your relationship with your dad was also easy for me to relate to because I also have a good relationship with my dad. The one of you that talked about how you had to live in your suburban, I thought your story was a very good example of making it through trials. The one of you that talked about how you had to go to foster care with your brothers and your younger brother died, I thought your story was very inspiring. The last one of you that talked I thought had a very sad story, but it showed that with help from God and others you can find your true calling. I thank all of you for coming and talking with us because I know that public speaking is very hard. I want to wish all you freshmen luck in your games, and hopefully you can stay away from injuries.

7. Dear Student Athletes,

After listening to your speeches, all I can say is, “Wow. That was intense.” Being a student athlete myself, I know that you wouldn’t be like the airhead jock stereotype everyone associates with people that play sports. However, I never would have thought that so many of you have gone through so much. When Mr. Cone told us we would be listening to all of these speeches, I assumed they would be about doing well in school and finding something you love and doing it. In a way, your speeches were about that. Of course, the speeches were also about so much more. Thorough your speeches, I discovered that every one of you has had some obstacle appear in your lives. You confessed to us your weakest moments. You also showed us how you came back from that dark place.These speeches taught me a very important lesson. They showed me that no matter what happens, don’t give up. If you just keep trying, it will work out.

8. Dear Student Athletes,

I am an athlete like you all! I am a swimmer and have been lucky enough to compete with my team and help MHS win States two years in a row. 
Your speeches were very inspirational and reassuring to me. You all gave me inspiration to do better in academics and my sport. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going and I get irritated and stressed out by little things, but now when that happens I’l remember your speeches and your trials. I’ll remember that if they could raise themselves about their own trials (which are much more extreme than my own), then I have to as well. I can relate to what you all have said about your coaches. The coaches I have now, Kyle Gallo and Karl Bramer, are the best coaches I’ve ever had and have inspired me to go further in swimming. Because of your speech, now I’ll definitely always listen to them—your speeches have only validated their places as my role models. And I’ve come to look up to you guys, too. Thank you!

9. Dear athletes,

I loved all of your guys’ speeches. Each one inspired me in a different way. You guys taught me that no matter what has happened to me or what I have been through that I can do anything I set my mind to, to always get back on my feet and don’t dwell on the bad things. God always has a plan for each one of us and you guys all knew that and really took advantage of it when you needed help. When you didn’t have many people to go to that never stopped your goals. All of you went through a bad time in your life, but eventually you found your way out and turned your life around. You guys have impacted me and really changed my mind about things. 
Shawne Alston made a powerful statement about if your situation changes you can change yourself to adapt to it. This really connected to me because I just met my real dad three years ago and it has been a big roller coaster ride for me. Hopefully one day me and my dad will be better and I don’t have to stress about it anymore. Thank you for coming in and giving us a speech on your own personal lives. Keep up the good work!

10. Dear PJ,

I thought your speech was very good. It was easiest to connect with you and everything you were saying. Pulling your ACL 3 times and still having WVU support you is awesome. They definitely saw a great future for you. Bring in that car accident must have been extremely tragic. I can’t relate to that but I could see all of the pain that you went through. Losing someone in your life who you’re so close with and really means something to you is the hardest thing people can go through. But you had hope and look where you are now. Congrats on everything you’ve accomplished and good luck with your future. You’re a strong man with a loving heart that’s going far in this world.

11. Dear P.J.

Out of all the speeches I heard today, I can relate to yours the best. Exactly a year from today 4 of the most influential people in my life died within a period of 6 months, and I almost failed my freshman year. My Pap pap died on this day 1 year ago after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and dimentia. After 2 weeks my best friend… died in a dirt bike crash right in front of me. I went into depression and would not talk to anyone about it. In 2 months, a woman that was like another mother to me… died because of kidney failure, and once again I went into depression. In another 3 months my friend’s father… died unexpectedly after a 10 year battle with cancer at the age of 34 years old. Pretty much you and I are in the same boat, your speech helped and inspired me to get in gear and get over it.

12. Dear Shawne Alston,

I really connected with your speech. It told a good story, taught a good lesson, and was delivered well. Your story was easy to relate to and made me realize that eventually my life will change and I will have to change to adapt to it. You taught me that no matter what happens in life I can change to make it better. You are a great example of this and I respect you for that. Thank you so much!

13. Dear PJ,

Your story was very touching. Even though I couldn’t relate to it very well because I haven’t lost anyone in a car wreck, I felt like you made me look at my friends differently and what I would do if I lost them. I also really enjoyed how you set your mind to getting your scholarship back. You never gave up even after 2 tries. That also made me feel a bit more brave, and now I know to never give up. By far, I thought you were the best speaker up there. You made good hand movements and your speech was very touching. Oh, and it was really cool how you box. I don’t box but that’s cool.

14. Dear all,

I, along with many of my class, am amazed at how you were able to gather the courage to come out and speak to us about sensitive topics. All of you inspired us and we will hopefully take these lessons and apply them to our own lives. 
Each and every one of your speeches’ lessons conveyed messages and morals that were not static between one interpreter and the next. We can all take these lessons and use them to fit into our own lives. Whenever I go through a difficult time, I always think how bad things are going for me. Now I understand how bad things could get and how many people have it worse than me each and every day. I now see how many of you have gone through much harder times than I have and all of you bounced back almost miraculously. What was really most difficult for me was to picture myself in your shoes and for me to have to lost a loved one or any other misfortune. 
I hope each of you excel, both academically and athletically, and reach your fell potential. I am happy that you do not have to go through these horrific incidences again. Thank you for coming to our school and we all enjoyed it.

15. Dear WVU Student Athletes,

Thank you so much for taking the time to come and speak to our health class. Your stories were moving and inspirational. Thank you for gathering the nerve to speak to a bunch of high school kids that you don’t even know about your life, your failures, your struggles, and your triumphs. It affects us more than you know. 
Hearing all of you be able to freely speak about what has hurt you in the past, but being able to forgive is amazing. It’s encouragement we all need and could use on a daily basis. 
 I loved hearing each one of your stories. They are relatable. Each one almost brought me to tears. You all persevered through extremely hard and difficult experiences. It’s encouraging. 
 You represent our state well. I can’t say “thank you” enough. Please keep sharing your stories and experiences to anyone whenever you can. We all appreciate what you do. Thanks. You guys did a fantastic job.

16. Dear WVU Athletes, 
I thoroughly enjoyed the speeches you presented to us. All of them struck home with me not necessarily in a personal way, but in such that I learned so much from them. The lessons taught by these speeches will resonate with me for the rest of my high school life and more than likely the entirety of my life. Not only will I be more accepting of my own issues but I will also continue to pursue my own dreams of becoming a college football player. You all inspire me as an aspiring high school athlete to pursue my dreams to the fullest. Your perseverance to achieve your goals of becoming college athletes will be spread to my teammates as well so they will also be inspired to become better and also succeed.

17. Dear Shawne Alston,

Your speech out of everyone’s was the most eye-opening. You’re living proof that if you want to go somewhere in life, if you work hard you can achieve it. Your quote at the end of your speech is what really got to me. I’m going to start using that because it was very inspirational. Congratulations on graduating in May, I wish you the best of luck in your future! I’m glad your roles have switched with the whole juvenile detention and lawyer thing too. Thank you for coming and talking to my class because I feel like people only know about the bad things athletes do instead of the good. If you keep the motivation you have now you will be very successful. I have much respect for you. Good job at the Orange Bowl too!