Germantown High School Principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi and dean of students/football coach Michael Hawkins could not conceal their pride Wednesday morning.
In the college football world, it is known as “Signing Day” since it is the first time athletes across the country can sign letters declaring where they will attend college.
Surrounded by their family, friends and teammates, that is exactly what standout players Will Parks and Myles Brooker did at 9:02 a.m.
Brooker signed a letter of intent to play at St. Francis University, a program in which he saw a good opportunity to get on the field as a wide receiver early in his college career. Donning a cap and T-shirt that spoke to his decision, Parks signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Arizona.
“We asked them to be student athletes, and they pushed themselves to do that,” Mullen said. “I’m very proud of them. We’re just so excited for them and their families because we could not have done this hadn’t their parents done their part, too.”
Speaking directly to the students, she asked, “Do you know how big accomplishment this is?”
They did, especially after Hawkins added that, “I’m so thankful I had the chance to see this. A lot of people did not think we could pull this off, but we did, and it’s only the first wave.”
The importance of education
While Parks signed on the dotted lines, his mother Nyerere started crying. She said she was overjoyed.
“I just thought about the first time he was in a [Wissahickon] Braves [youth-football] uniform, how he would run up and down the field, wild and crazy,” she said. “And now, we don’t have to pay for a college education because he’s that complete of a kid. We have a big family, but only two college graduates. It’s such a big deal.”
That’s the dynamic to which Mullen and Hawkins spoke, their desire to educate students who go onto excel in whatever field they choose. When talking about post-graduation accomplishments, Mullen focused on a college degree.
Though Parks’s school plays in a major football conference, they noted that Brooker’s choice offered the potential for a great education as well.
Said his father Vincent, “they showed a lot of love to him at St. Francis. Now, I have to get ready to move my son to college!”
The players, both of whom said they were interested in studying sports medicine with Brooker adding physical therapy and Parks intrigued by the prospect of studying psychology, hearkened back to when they were six-years-old. They both played for the same youth team then, and have been best friends since.
“I’m proud of him,” said Brooker, “just like he’s proud of me.”