Willie Spears

Willie Spears

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Learn more at www.williespears.com.

Randall and Toya Smith, Sr. have a son named Randall Smith. Randall has loved the game of football his entire life, and his parents have supported him athletically and academically. When it came time to pick a high school, they were told not to send him to Rutherford High School in Springfield, Florida, a suburb of Panama City, because the academic workload would be too difficult. They decided to send Randall to Rutherford anyway despite the opinion of others. As a Rutherford Ram, Randall struggled academically. Randall was tested and diagnosed with A.D.D. and a learning disability. His mother, Toya, was told her son would not graduate and would receive a certificate of completion instead of a standard diploma. Randall was not considered a viable candidate for receiving a high school diploma and was not college material.

Those in charge suggested he go to trade school and learn a trade because college was not his best option. Randall was talented as a football player, but his team did not see much success in his four-year high school career. The Rams failed to have one winning season, and not many of the players went on to play college football.

The Smith family searched for wins in the classroom and on the field but lacked the support to realize victory. Toya Smith decided she would do everything in her power to help her son win in life. Although some doubted him in high school, Randall had a great support system.

Randall went to Tommy Smith Elementary School, where Mrs. Turner pushed him to excel and do his best. As a middle school student, he received the same support and encouragement from Mrs. Weaver at Merit Brown Middle School. During his high school years, Randall’s therapist and many others suggested he focus on the certificate of completion and give up on earning a diploma. His counselor Mr. Tutunick made sure Randall took the classes he needed to go to college, and Dr. Butler spent hours motivating, inspiring, and encouraging Randall when he was frustrated and wanted to give up on his dream. Josie Dolar, high school tutor, also and a major impact on Randall academically.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, to watch Alabama State University football team take on Deion Sander’s Jackson State Team from Jackson, Mississippi. The Alabama State Hornets came into the game as underdogs with an 0-1 record, while Jackson State was having one of the best starts in school history with a 3-0 record, including two conference wins and being national ranked in the Football Championship Series polls.

Randall is a senior at Alabama State University and plays on the defensive line. Watching big number 77 play in the game and celebrate with his team after the 35-28 upset victory was exciting. I found myself jumping and hollering like a proud parent. I do not know Randall Smith, but I was happy for him and his teammates. However, this win was not the most exciting win in Randall’s life.

Randall has earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is two classes away from earning his master’s degree. These are real wins. Toya Smith made sure her son would win on and off the field by starting a winning tradition at home. She believed in her son and did not allow the doubters, haters, or naysayers to affect her drive, dedication, and ambition for her son.

What this mother and son have accomplished is simply incredible. This is the ultimate underdog story, and I am not talking about Jackson State losing to Alabama State. All big wins consist of a great team. Randall had help from Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Weaver, Mr. Tutunick, and Dr. Butler. I know three of these four educators well, and I know they are celebrating this big win with Randall and his mother.

Randall’s home was at Tommy Smith, Merritt Brown, Rutherford, and now Alabama State. Winning at each spot allowed him to matriculate to the next spot culminating to a graduate degree. That’s what I call winning. Toya Smith made it her business to win at home. Education is important to her and her family. Randall Smith is a true success story. Randall Smith is a winner.

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Do not give up on your children.

2. Ask for help and allow people to help you.

3. Emphasis education over sports.

I don’t know about you, but I want to Win At Home.

I am praying for you and your family.

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