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Chapman, Page and Bess emphasize academics – Part 1

Last week The Minnesota Vikings announced Rufus Bess, (head coach of Minneapolis North Polars football team) as Vikings/NFL High School Coach of the Week. The award ceremony took place Tuesday, Sept. 30,… Last week The Minnesota Vikings announced Rufus Bess, (head coach of Minneapolis North Polars football team) as Vikings/NFL High School Coach of the Week. The award ceremony took place Tuesday, Sept. 30, at North High School. There was a reunion of past and present Minnesota Vikings players including, Bess, a former Vikings cornerback; Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle; and current Vikings running back Doug Chapman (#34). As the award recipient Bess received a $1,000 donation to the school’s football program. Before the check presentation the North High football team sat intently listening to Page and Chapman encourage them in their studies.

Page emphasized that education will develop their full potential and lead them directly to success. He said education should take priority because football promises no guarantees. "You all have a great deal of potential when it comes to your contributions to this school, your contributions to this community and your contributions to this nation. The only way you’re going to fulfill that potential is to prepare yourself. Whatever motivates you to be involved in the academic life of your school, I think, is vitally important.

"Some of you, probably not too many of you, will be fortunate enough to go on and play football in college. Maybe there is somebody in here who will be a professional football player one day. Irrespective of whether the football career continues, life will continue," said Page.

Page said even if the students are fortunate to experience the success and longevity, of a football career such as his, there have to be other goals to pursue. "I played professional football for 15 years; played in four Superbowls; was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and I was inducted into the professional football Hall of Fame.

"At some point that’s going to come to an end," Page told the students. "Whether it’s because of injury or age —who knows what it might be. And the question becomes, what do you do after that? What you do after that will depend on how well each of you prepares for the future and the work you do in school today will determine how well each of you will do in the future."

Page also talked about the Page Education Foundation, an organization he founded with his wife and friends 15 years ago. It awards education grants to post-secondary students attending school within Minnesota. The requirement for all recipients is to spend an allotted time with children as their mentors, tutors and role models. "We send those young children the strong clear message that education is important and that with education you can be successful. I believe strongly that for young men and women of color – one very important solution to the problem of discrimination, to the problems associated with being disadvantaged, to the problems associated with being on the lower end as opposed to the upper end of the economic scale, is education. With education your future can be whatever you would like it to be."

Despite how people viewed him in his youth, Page said he was determined to stay focused on his studies. "When I was your age nobody would have predicted that I could possibly be a supreme court justice. They probably would have suggested that if I was going to be anywhere near a court it was going to be on the wrong side of the defendant’s table. One of the key reasons that I am able to be a supreme court justice is because of the work that I did in the classroom when I was your age. There is a direct correlation between what you do today and what you will be doing 30, 20, 10, five years from now – a direct correlation," he said.

Page released the floor to Chapman, who used personal experiences to relate the importance of students’ attitudes toward

October 6, 2003
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