Former Ohio State, NFL player Jimmie Bell tells Delaware STEAM club elements of success

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
Former Ohio State University and National Football League player Jimmie Bell of Columbus described the actions and attitude needed to reach life goals during a motivational speech to a gathering of the STEAM club that has operated since 2017 at the Unity Community Center, 50 Ross St. in Delaware.

Life goals can be achieved by fighting with heart and mind despite times of adversity, several youths were told May 10 at the Unity Community Center, 50 Ross St. in Delaware.

The students were members of the STEAM club, which has operated since 2017 at the center, formerly the Second Ward Community Center.

Describing the formula for success was former Ohio State University and National Football League defensive lineman Jimmie Bell of Columbus.

Bell describes himself as an empowerment coach and speaker and said he was speaking at the center as a volunteer.

He is one of a number of professional athletes associated with Sports World, a nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis that relies on donations to fund assembly programs with students across the country.

Bell played on OSU's 1997 Rose Bowl championship team and for the New York Giants and San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers. 

Bell told the students they alone control their own actions, attitude and legacy, and he described ways to endure adversity and take advantage of opportunities to achieve personal dreams.

The talk resonated with the students, said Delaware Hayes High School junior Debora Kwagala, president of the center's STEAM club. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

"It was a great talk on motivation. I learned a lot, and I can apply it to my life right now (to) work harder so I can be able to graduate high school and how I can be a leader in STEM. So I really liked his talk,” Kwagala said. “And the little kids also listening. They can also be able to learn from it."

She said she understood Bell's message on the importance of self-reliance.

"We kind of live in a society where people are constantly telling you what you should do and be. People kind of just seek other people's approval on things and how they should act,” she said. “It's really important to just know your worth and know that you can just do whatever you put your mind to and you should work hard. ... Just shut those voices out that are telling you that you can't do something."

After his talk, Bell told ThisWeek that understanding, empathy and compassion are essential elements in communicating his message to students and young adults.

"Within 30 seconds, I'm hoping I can find out exactly what that individual needs from me" to establish a personal connection, he said. "I'm not telling them something someone hasn't told them. ... Ultimately, it's that soulful connection that requires empathy, that allows us to engage the way that we do."

The key to understanding a child often is simply to pay attention, he said.

 A child might be hungry, confused, misunderstood or struggling with something crazy he or she had witnessed at home, Bell said.

Educators have difficult jobs, he said, because they often are forced into the role of life coaches or social workers – needs that go beyond their level of training.

Bell said he tries to place himself in the shoes of each person he meets.

During the presentation, Bell said reaching life goals and attaining dreams are based on attitude, actions and legacy.

"We are totally in control of all three," he said.

Legacy, he said, is "how each and every one of you in this room will choose to be remembered" by others.

 "A lot of young adults and adults allow other people to dictate what their attitude is. I don't. I challenge you guys not to, either," he told the group.

"No one else can say or dictate" our individual actions and attitudes, he said.

Attitude, he said, is part of the impression individuals leave on other people, and it can open doors.

"Our attitude sometimes can keep us in places and areas and can have other people make sure that we're in places and areas that we may not even deserve to be in," he said, meaning that could lead to opportunities.

It requires determination, he said, to maintain a positive attitude and actions when everything is going wrong.

"The struggle to the victory is, are you willing under any circumstances to do the right thing according to your dream? Are you willing to do the right thing when your mama is getting on your last nerve? ... That's the victory in the struggle," he said. "Most young adults make ridiculous distracting decisions based upon how they feel about someone else or something else. I think that's insane."

If he wants to know how serious someone is about achieving a goal, he said, "I just have to sit back and see what their actions are.”

“If you want to use college to further yourself and give yourself an opportunity, ... what type of application are you putting in the classroom? Are you putting 100% of effort in the classroom? I don't care what your grade is,” he said. “You'll never hear me ask a young adult what their grade is. ... The true indicator of your character is the effort, your actions that you put into your education. You max up the effort, those actions into your education, and then we'll get the rewards of our effort."

The patient will be rewarded, he said, because success doesn't always follow quickly.

 "The beauty is the more fortitude, the more you trust and believe in yourself and what God had given you and the vision in which you see, ... you'll continuously get closer and closer and closer to the realization of where you want to be and who you want to be," Bell said.

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