FAIRFIELD — Armijo High School students heard Friday about the one person who’ll be with them the rest of their lives.
“You,” Lamonte Winston said. “You might as well start liking yourself now.”
The Oakland Raiders executive said students should push for excellence in academics, athletics and their personal lives. The most important word is “push,” he said.
Winston, 54, director of player engagement for the Raiders and recently returned from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis where about 300 football players gathered, said as a college student he did well in some classes but wasn’t a top scholar.
But, he said, he never gave up in class or on the football field.
“I had drive,” Winston said.
He knew he’d outlive and outlast others, he said.
“I was the absolute best ‘C’ student you’re ever going to meet,” Winston said. “I knew if I kept pushing through the tough classes, I’d get there.”
Winston, speaking at the Pushing Excellence Program core values workshop that Fairfield City Councilwoman Pam Bertani and the Fairfield Neighborhood Organizing Workforce helped bring to the Fairfield-Suisun School District, talked to about 100 students in the House of Representatives leadership group at Armijo High. He emphasized trust, communication and relationships.
The academic and the personal matter as much as athletics, Winston said, because the last time he checked they’re not renting houses and cars because of people’s muscles or beauty.
As students spoke about their post-high school plans, including college, Winston asked, “And then what?” When they said careers would follow, he asked, “And then what?”
“It’s always ‘And what else,” the NFL executive said of the need to push for excellence.
He talked about the importance of personal networks and how people perceive you. The more people you know – the more resources and the more opportunities you have, Winston said.
“The reality of it,” he said, “is that you need others to get where you want to go.”
Winston, a San Ramon resident, spoke after his talk about growing up in Oakland.
“Oakland is great,” he said, adding, “Our parents did a great job of showing us the world was bigger than Oakland, California.”
Councilwoman Bertani, an attorney and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the law school at Arizona State University, is Winston’s sister. Bertani told students at the start of the event to demand and pursue excellence.
Insist on it, she said. That’s what you’re going to have to do to realize your unlimited potential, she said.
Marisol Zaragoza, 17, a senior at Armijo, said of the program, “It was good info.” Angelica Parra, 17, also a senior, said how to succeed in work, her personal life and sports were the highlights.
Eric Tretten, principal of Armijo, welcomed Winton’s message to students that, “who I am, who I hang with, what I do,” reflects on them.
Winston spoke Thursday at the Matt Garcia Learning Center and after Armijo High went to Green Valley Middle School to talk with students Friday. Winston during his talk introduced Sam Williams, a graduate of Fresno State University, who played eight years for the Oakland Raiders.
“Everything he said has carried over into my life,” said Williams, 33.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.