Special Guests Share Motivational Messages

Special Guests Share Motivational Messages with Plains Junior Students
Posted on 05/16/2018
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guest speaker photos at Plains Junior SchoolIt was motivational Monday when two special guests visited Plains Junior School this week. Amberly Gray, a former Plains student and Lakota West graduate, and Rick Hughes, a retired professional basketball player, spoke to the students about hard work and perseverance.

Gray spoke to the students about the importance of finding a network of people who will support you in life. “Surround yourself with people who will make you better. That starts now.” She also shared her life motto: “I can. I will. I did.” This fierce belief helped Gray overcome several serious health concerns she endured while playing basketball for Pat Summit, the legendary coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee.

During her recovery, doctors told Gray that she should get used to a new normal. “How can someone else tell you what a normal life is?” she asked the audience. “You have to find your own normal.” She continued to talk about her dream to play basketball again, even as she sat in a wheelchair recovering from a stroke. Today, Gray plays professional basketball in France. “Everyday. I can and I will,” she reminded the students. “If you believe in yourself, you can and you will accomplish your dreams.”

Former NBA player Rick Hughes continued to motivate Plains students by explaining that the power of being positive, even when the going gets tough, will help a person find success in life. “If you stay positive, anything is possible.”

Hughes told the audience of challenges he overcame, including growing up in a neighborhood with gangs. He echoed Gray’s belief that you need to surround yourself with people who will support you saying, “if they can’t build you up, leave them alone.”

Overcoming difficulties is part of life, and a prime example is that this former professional athlete was cut from the basketball team during his senior year of high school. Although he returned to basketball while attending Thomas More College, Hughes also saw the importance of focusing on academics. “Never, ever be ashamed of your intelligence,” he said.

As the gym repeated after Hughes, “I need FOCUS,” he explained that to succeed in life, one needs to have a plan. To Hughes, FOCUS stands for “follow one course until successful.”

Plains eighth grader William Layfield’s takeaway from the morning is that it is important to be positive and surround yourself with others who share a similar point of view. “All the negativity and stuff can lead you to bad places. Surround yourself with positive people to help you succeed.”

Language arts teacher Lisa Wackler Silverglade arranged for Gray and Hughes to speak to the student body. “It is always a great opportunity for our students to see how hard work and perseverance pays off both in sports and in the classroom.”