Growing up in Los Angeles Solomon Elimimian was repeatedly told he would never make it as a pro football player.
This week the BC Lions three-time all star, and only person in Canadian Football League history to win three different most outstanding player awards, told students at a series of local schools in the Okanagan if they believe in themselves and work hard, they to can live their dreams.
“For me, not knowing my way, my route in life, sports was one thing that helped me develop and become the man I am today. Being here at the school for us is a good time to bond with the kids and deliver that message,” said Elimimian who was joined by teammates Stephen Adekolu and Dyshawn Davis. “I like to keep it real with them, some things that we’ve experienced in life some hardships we went through we share with them things that we’ve been through.
“It’s fun because when I see these kids, I see myself. I see a part of me that wasn’t sure what the world would bring, wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring.”
Penticton was the first of six stops in a swing through the Okanagan as part of the Lions in the House program.
They were also scheduled to visit schools in West Kelowna, Kelowna, Coldstream and Vernon this week.
Students from SenPokChin school in Oliver were also in attendance Monday for the presentation which included games along with the talks by the Lions players.
Grade 4 student Sisuse definitely got the message.
“They taught us that we’re supposed to make good decisions, not bad decisions,” said Sisuse. “You are the one making decisions, so you have to make the right one. It was exciting. My favourite part was when my friend Kaelani (Greyeyes) was up doing sit ups.”
Adekolu who is a wide receiver for the Lions echoed his teammate’s thoughts.
“With the age of technology it’s important to get out and learn new things and what we’re trying to let students know is that if they work hard at the things they’re interested in they can reach those goals,” he said. “I get a lot of positive feedback from the kids.”
Lions in the House is a program that focusses on the power of choice, being the best you can be and making the right decisions, including looking at trades as a career goal.
“For many of our students, athletics is an important part of their life,” said Outma principal Derek Stewart. “Being able to see such successful role models be well-spoken and friendly makes a big difference. With the recognition that a university path isn’t the right path for everyone, schools are really trying to educate our students about the many interesting and lucrative choices available in the trades.”