Raiders Lead Valley’s Varsity to Victory Off the Field

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Kahleia Corpuz

The Raiders ELITE meeting allows for student athletes to hear from athletes who have experience in the job field.

Kahleia Corpuz, Editor-in-Chief

Retired NFL athlete Khalif Barnes took the time on Wednesday, September 23, to talk to Valley Varsity athletes about their futures.

“At first, I didn’t start playing football until my sophomore year of high school. Going into the NFL was never a priority for me,” Barnes said to the student athletes. “My football coach sat me down and said, ‘It may not even be the NFL you’re thinking of, you may get your college paid for.’”

Valley’s Varsity athletes from all sports were given the opportunity to hear about Barnes’s journey to professional football via Zoom. While the journey may not have been the easiest one, like any experience, it is one to learn from.

“The meeting was an important opportunity for our student athletes to hear from a 13-year [retired athlete] on how he got there and the sacrifices that took place in that journey,” Valley football Coach Quincy Burts said. “Students always pay attention to details from someone who is speaking from experience.”

Though Barnes’s journey was centered around his athletic career, he emphasized that an educational foundation was essential to success out on the field.

Retired NFL player Kalif Barnes talks to Valley’s Varsity athletes to help guide them through their academic and athletic journey. (Kahleia Corpuz)

“There’s nothing more wasteful than a mind that is not educated. Your foundation has got to be tight. It has to be tight to the core. This sports stuff is secondary to the foundation of education. If you’re not educated about it, you’re at a disadvantage in everything that you do,” Barnes said.

The retired athlete went on to talk about the weight that character has, even deeming an athletes’ character as more important than their athletic ability.

“Character is what you do when no one else is looking. Would you do that if no one was there?” Barnes said. “Character lets me know the stuff that you’re doing when no one is looking.Treat people like how you want to be treated. If you wanted to be treated a certain way, you got to treat the next person like that.”

Sometimes life does not go to plan. While every student athlete who wants to be a professional wishes to be at a Division 1, or D1 for short, school, Barnes reassured Valley athletes that this is not the only way to go pro.

Take care of your own stuff. Farm your own land. You can control what you do now or the next day. After you get there, it’s up to you to do what you can control.”

— Khalif Barnes

“It’s okay to not go D1 sometimes. Not everyone can go to a D1 school. Certain people have to work harder than others,” Barnes said. “Take care of your own stuff. Farm your own land. You can control what you do now or the next day. After you get there, it’s up to you to do what you can control.”

The athletic department really hoped that this meeting would teach the athletes that not every experience is as clean-cut as people envision. Every athlete’s journey to success is different, and the athletic department thought it would be important to learn from these vets of the sports in a personal way.

“For me, it’s important to learn from his mistakes,” senior Axcel Ramirez-Fausto said. “Make the right decision and just continue to work, and take everything he said and really try to input that in my future.”