My Kids' New Rolle Model

Matt PicchiettiContributor IJanuary 16, 2009

I love Myron Rolle. I love his parents. I love the teachers and coaches that have helped him become who he is. Mostly, I love him because I can use him as the new role model for my kids…okay, I lied. I don’t have kids, nor am I even married, but I do teach and coach at a high school.

So, for five 43-minute sessions per day, I have 127 kids, that belong to other people, but become mine, if only for a short time. Like any good parent figure, I try to make my time with them memorable, if not productive. I try to help them see that what’s important is not always easy, fun, popular, or profitable, but what’s right is obvious.

My man Myron is living proof.  In high school, Rolle had a 4.0 GPA, played the saxophone, and sang in a school play. I did none of these things and respect those that can do what I cannot.

He was also an All-American prep recruit.

Rolle graduated from Florida State Universityafter only 2.5 years, majoring in exercise sciences with a concentration in pre-med. He is currently completing a master's program. I want to hate him for his perfection.

Again, I’ve done none of that. I’d still be in college if 30-year-olds could live in dorms without background checks.

wIn 2008, he earned Associated Press 3rd team All-American honors, Football Writers Association America 2nd team All-ACC, CoSIDA Academic All-America, and, oh yeah, 2008 Rhodes friggin’ Scholar…yadda-yadda-yadda. I’ve done none of that either.

However, there have been others, who have been able to, seemingly, do everything well too.

Other Rhodes Scholars with notable influence and athletic ties include:

William Stevenson 1922       American Olympic gold medalist in 1924 (Paris).

Jack Lovelock          1931       1500 meter Olympic Gold medalist in 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Byron White           1938       Football player, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bob Hawke[1]         1953       World record for the fastest consumption a yard of beer.

                                                Prime Minister of Australia 1983-1991.

Kris Kristofferson[2]  1958       American actor and musician.

Peter M. Dawkins      1959       Heisman Trophy Winner.

Bill Bradley                1965       NBA star, and Democratic presidential candidate in 2000.

Bill Clinton[3]             1968       American politician, 42nd President of the United States.

Charles McMillen      1974       U.S. Olympian, NBA basketball player.

Mike Fitzpatrick[4]    1975       Former Australian rules footballer.

Pat Haden                  1978       Won Rose Bowl MVP as quarterback at USC, played

                                                   with the L.A. Rams.

David Kirk[5]              1987       Captain of the New Zealand All Blacks who won the

                                                 inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Simon Hollingsworth     1992       Australian Olympic runner (1992, 1996) 400m hurdles.

Annette Salmeen           1997       1996 American Olympic gold medalist in swimming.

Jonathan Bonnitcha      2006       Australian windsurfer and sailor.

Myron Rolle                   2008       Defensive back for Florida State Seminoles.

So Rolle is not alone, but he is unique.

I love this kid because he provides young, black men with a worthwhile modern role model. Pop culture, entertainment, and athletics have, for too long, dominated as examples of what young, black men should try to be like.

A generation ago there was King, Jr. but that’s like trying to aspire to be Jesus and, unfortunately, for today’s kids, King is more of an abstract, historical figure from the 60’s than someone to aspire to be.

(Don’t believe me? Martin Luther King Day is this Monday. Ask any high school student, regardless of race, if they’ve ever listened to the entire “I Have a Dream" speech. Better yet, ask for the year he gave that speech[6] or the year he was assassinated[7]. Ask and be ready to cry a little on the inside.)  

Ali had the guts to do what was right. He was stripped of his title and was alienated by blacks (and alienated further by whites) for it. Barrack Obama is another new, great black role model. And there are others too, but Rolle is perfect. He’s young, focused, and more talented than most of the most talented…and he has simply worked his butt off and kept his mouth shut.

Most importantly, I love Myron Rolle because my kids, especially young, male athletes, have been bombarded with dead-beats; wildly popular dead-beats, but dead-beats none-the-less.

Rolle would be a second-fourth round draft pick and be able to, probably, make a team. Could you imagine some of his headline making sports brethren cheerfully walking the halls of Oxford seamlessly discussing medical anthropology? Consider anyone off of this list:

Pacman Jones, Roger Clemens, T.O., Tony Romo, O.J. Simpson.

(Imagine the following question asked with a scholarly British accent.)

“Excuse me, Mr….Pacman is it? Jones. Yes, Mr. Jones, could you, in detail, discuss the medulla oblongata, what brain functions it controls, where it is, and what the hell do you suppose is the malfunction with yours?”

I mean where are the unicorn ponies in that fairy tale? That scenario will happen four days after the Earth crashes into the sun, but Rolle can have that conversation now, then strap it up and knock heads for four quarters.

And imagine the post-game interview he could give! Complete sentences, eye-contact, proper grammar; it may be too much to expect, I know. Listen to the post-game interviews from the BCS national title game and you tell me how many of those kids go to their English classes.

I love this kid and I hope more people talk about how hard what he has done is. I hope more people talk about not only what he has done, but how he has handled himself while doing it. Therein dwells the real genius of Myron Rolle, role model for students and athletes…finally.        

[1] A yard can contain between 1.2 - 2 quarts of beer.Peter Dowdeswellof Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, England, drank a yard of ale, containing 2 imperial pints, in 5 seconds on May 4, 1975. This is a sport, thus, Bob Hawke must be on this list.

[2] I know he’s not an athlete but wow, I did not expect this one. The man who penned “Bobby McGee”  and co-star of the Blade series…Kristofferson, Joplin, and Wesley Snipes…that’d be a helluva trio to have a lunch with.

[3] Slick Willy!! Outstanding! An athlete in his own right.

[4]In a bar fight, I want this guy on my side. Aussie footballers are out of their minds…even if it is an exceptional mind.

[5] Any list with a guy who can, in all seriousness, go by Captain Kirk must be on any list of the exceptional….Also, see footnote No. 4. Rugby players are only slightly less out of their minds than Aussie footballers...maybe.

[6] 1963.

[7] 1968.


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