ENDICOTT, N.Y. – If you’re lucky enough to become a professional athlete, chances are you got there due to many different circumstances.
There’s probably a mixture of natural talent, hard work, a little luck, and a lot of support.
And for most athletes, because of that support, they want to give back to the community that helped them achieve their goal.
For the Union-Endicott football team, they were on the receiving end of that on Wednesday.
U-E got a big surprise from one of the school’s most well-known alumni.
Former Tigers standout and Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones donated 61 pairs of cleats to his former high school’s football team.
As the Tigers trickled into the locker room before Wednesday’s practice, their reactions were almost all the same; excited and grateful.
Each player received a cleat specific for them as far as the style and cut, but all came in the sleek black with the white Nike swoosh.
Head coach Tommy Baleno knows how much this means to the players, and is just as thankful for the generous gift from Jones.
“I think this is a great life lesson for anyone. Not just football players, but for any young adults and even adults. Sometimes, we forget that it’s not always about the wins. It’s not always about your achievements, your accolades. It’s not always about your scholarships or your paychecks. Sometimes, it’s about someone else, and giving to someone else. I think that’s what really the life lesson is here. It’s just really great. I think the players are more appreciative, not just because they’re cleats, because everyone likes new gear. But, I think they’re more appreciative that he remembered them. I think that they’re more appreciative that it’s a gift from him. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s a gift from Chandler Jones, a man that you can really look up to and want to be like,” he says.
The Tigers get their first opportunity to show off their new swag on Friday night.
U-E hosts Whitesboro under the lights at Ty Cobb Stadium, with kick-off set for 7:00 pm.