By Amanda Kite
LARNED — Rich Garza, former center in the National Football League, came to Larned as a motivational speaker for the youth Tuesday. He spoke at Northside and Hillside Elementary, Larned Middle and High School, and the Larned Juvenile Corrections Facility.
“Life is about choosing and refusing,” Garza said. “Since I was a child I wanted to get a college education and play against the Cowboys.” He encourages all to set goals and dreams to achieve. “Five P’s: Poor preparation produces poor performance.“
“The students were very excited to have a famous athlete come and speak to them,” said Danielle Fleske, third-grade teacher at Northside Elementary. “Since he has spoken to us, I have heard many students using his quote: ‘You’re not born a winner, you’re not born a loser, you’re born a chooser.’ He also did a wonderful job helping to get them pumped up for the upcoming State Assessments.”
“Rich’s presentation really hit home with the youth today,” said Kyle B. Rohr, CPM, Superintendent of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility. “His message is powerful and he really gets you thinking about the choices and decisions you make and how that affects your life.”
Garza, originally from Bethlehem, Pa., played for Temple University where he was a four-year letterman, elected Offensive Lineman of the Year his last two years and was captain of the team his senior year. After college he played in the National Football League with Philadelphia Eagles in 1981 and Denver Broncos in 1982.
Later he played in the United States Football League with Philadelphia Stars in 1983 and San Antonio Gunslingers 1984 to 1985.
He has been speaking to students and prisoners across the nation for 28 years, starting on his off seasons lecturing at schools when he played in the NFL. Now he travels 100 days of the year speaking to students from grade school to college, and prisoners from juveniles to those on death row. Garza lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and four children.
“I am just throwing the seed and hopefully it hits fertile soil,” said Garza.