The second annual Moore League Sportsmanship Symposium was held last week at Cabrillo High, with some of the top 10th and 11th grade athletes from each of the seven league schools on hand. Compton, Jordan, Lakewood, Millikan, Poly, Wilson, and the host Jaguars were all represented for a morning full of team-building exercises and speeches meant to highlight the off-field values that high school sports are meant to represent.
Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer put together an all-star speaking lineup for last year’s inaugural event, and this year was the same, with Jordan alum and Cincinnati Bengal John Ross speaking, along with Wilson alum and CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod.
Ross spoke about the importance of making big decisions about priorities, and then letting the little decisions flow from that.
“Some of the best Moore League football players ever didn’t make it to college because of their grades or other issues,” he said. “And some of them think that’s okay.”
Ross talked about a turning point in his life when a Pac-12 coach visited Jordan and told him that he’d be receiving a scholarship offer that afternoon if his grades were better. Because he wasn’t an NCAA qualifier at that time, there was no scholarship offer. Ross said that was the wakeup call.
“It was the worst feeling in my life,” he said.
From that point on he started attacking things that were put in front of him. He said he motivated himself academically and athletically.
“You have more resources around you than you realize, but it’s on you to take advantage,” he said. “Don’t wait until you’re a senior, do it now.”
Ross, who set the NFL combine record in the 40 yard dash, said his speed applied to more than just his football game. He would sometimes be taken to task by professors at the University of Washington for finishing projects that were supposed to take five to six weeks within a few days.
“I just didn’t want to wait on anything, I wanted to attack every challenge and take it down right away,” he said.
Given that he was speaking to the young leaders of each campus, Ross talked about the importance of being a leader in the right way.
“I’ve never been afraid to talk a little, but when you do that you have to back it up,” he said. “The right kind of leadership is being an example, showing people how you do things. It isn’t making an example out of someone and embarrassing them.”
Ross closed with a message about how lucky the kids in the room were to be from Long Beach and to have the support of their community.
“There’s kids around the world who’d give their arms to be where you are,” he said. “Everything is in front of you, you just have to go get it.”