|NFL star receiver, Golden Tate, hosted a free football skills camp on Friday, June 10, at Pope John Paul II High School, where he was a standout football player. He graduated from the school in 2007 and was twice named Mr. Football in Tennessee. Tate talks with Espen Maddox, 9, from Trousdale County, who was one of the participants in the camp. Photo by Rick Musacchio|
As a student at Pope John Paul II High School, Golden Tate set the standard for athletic excellence for the new school. But he wants his legacy to stretch further than the football field.
“Life is all about giving back,” said Tate, who returned to JPII on June 9, to have his number 23 retired by the school and to announce the establishment of the Tate Scholarship Fund at the school. “I’ll remember what I did for others more than any touchdown.”
Tate, who graduated from JPII in 2007, starred on the football field, where he was a two-time Mr. Football winner, the baseball diamond, where he was selected in the Major League Baseball draft as a high school senior and again as junior in college, the basketball court, and on the track as a sprinter.
After JPII he starred as a wide receiver on the football team for the University of Notre Dame, where he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top receiver. He also starred on the Notre Dame baseball team as an outfielder.
He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. He then signed with the Detroit Lions, where he was named to the Pro Bowl.
|The school honored Tate by retiring his football jersey number 23 during ceremonies on Thursday, June 9. Photo by Andy Telli|
In high school, he wasn’t known as a one-dimensional student. During the dinner to retire Tate’s number, Jj Ebelhar, his chorus teacher, remembered him as a hard-working student in her class who eventually became a member of the school’s elite chamber choir.
“He was the total package, athletics, academics, spiritually,” said JPII football coach Justin Geisinger. “To recognize the achievements of an alum that’s really reached the top is truly a great honor. … Number 23 will live on in the memory of everything you brought to this community.”
“Walking through the hallways … lots of memories are coming back,” Tate said in a press conference before the dinner. “JPII kind of formed the person I am today, mostly because of the people here, the teachers and coaches. … I took something from each of these people.”
Tate is now trying to give back, he said. “I want kids to have the same opportunities I had.”
The Tate Scholarship Fund will give financial aid to girl and boy student athletes. There are families who want their children to have a JPII education, Tate said, and he wants to help them do that. “Academically, this is one of the best schools in the area, maybe the state,” Tate said.
The fund, with support from Tate and sponsors ServPro, Premier Orthopaedics, Botsko Builders, Body Guard Sports Medicine, the Ron and Kimberly Scott Family and the Doug and Jj Ebelhar Family, will begin with $25,000, said Michelle Barber, JPII’s dean of admissions and advancement.
I hope to make it bigger and bigger,” Tate said. “It’s incredible … to affect families the way we are.”
|Tate holds Grayson Bagwell, the son of a former teammate at JPII, while talking to one of the people who attended the dinner. As a player in the NFL, Tate won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and currently is a Pro Bowl receiver with the Detroit Lions. Photo by Andy Telli|
The scholarship fund was announced at the dinner to retire Tate’s number. “It’s an incredible honor,” Tate said of having his number retired. “I never would have thought coming into high school I would have my jersey retired.”
Tate thanked his family for their support. “Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for you guys,” he said. “Whatever we needed, my mother and father, my grandmother, my grandfather found a way.”
Tate credited his religious faith with helping become the man he is. “Without my faith in God, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “Appreciate life, appreciate what God gave you.”
He encouraged members of JPII’s football team attending the dinner to “use your platform to be leaders in the school, to make it a better place.”
On Friday, June 10, Tate returned to JPII for the first ever Golden Tate Football Camp, which drew more than 300 third through eighth graders and was co-sponsored by the NFL Foundation and USA Football.
“It’s been something that’s been on my heart for a while,” he said of organizing the camp. “I never knew where to start,” and he thanked Barber for helping him to organize the camp.
“We’re excited about getting it going,” Tate said. “We want to be here every year and grow it.”