To a rapt audience at Isaac Middle School, hometown hero and former Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl champion Darren Woodson shared a story about his best childhood friend.
Both grew up in Maryvale’s Isaac School District. Both excelled in sports. Both were on track toward scholarships at ASU. That is, until his friend chose a different path; he joined a gang, dropped out of school and began selling drugs.
“He went one direction and I went another,” recalled Woodson. “I went to ASU and was recruited by the NFL. He got recruited by the penitentiary for 24 years of his life.”
Woodson spoke at his middle school alma mater as part of Extra Yard For Teachers, a program sponsored by the National College Football Playoff Foundation, the Arizona Organizing Committee and Valley of the Sun United Way. The initiative supports public school teachers by funding classroom projects, as well as providing professional development and leadership training.
In addition, the program works to inspire a college-going culture among grade-school students in the host communities of the College Football Playoff National Championship, in part by providing a variety of college banners for schools to display in hallways.
Here’s a look at the highlights of the “Banner Rally” at Isaac Middle School, including a surprise encounter between Woodson and former middle school coach J.C. Helton.