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Our culture is in dire need of role models, and with that said I would like to introduce to you Erik Ainge. Nobody is perfect, this we know. Some people may perceive a person as perfect but the truth is that they are far from it. The only thing a person can do to try and be as "perfect" as possible to do good deeds, be considerate, excel in life and give it their all in tough situations. There is someone that I believe everyone should get to know about, that person is Erik Ainge. He is the starting quarterback for the highly ranked Tennessee Volunteers. He goes above and beyond in the classroom, while performing excessive community service and playing college football. Throughout this essay I will discuss with you many different aspects of this fine young man. I’ll let you know how he was when he was young, how he evolved to be a great student athlete, and how Erik excelled in life.
When Erik Ainge was young, he was a very gifted athlete. He was always taller than most (His father was 6’5”) and his parents (Doug and Diane Ainge) taught him how demonstrate good sportsmanship in his athletics. He was an outstanding football, basketball, and baseball player. His father Doug played college basketball, and his uncle, Danny Ainge, played professional baseball with the Toronto Bluejays, followed by a productive career as a professional basketball player (now the general manager of a professional basketball team, the Boston Celtics.) Erik dreamt of playing professional basketball or football when he grew up. Through his hard work and discipline, Erik made all of the competitive all-star teams when he was in grade school, and all the way through junior high. Outside of sports was no different. His parents made sure he would not only grow up to be a great role-model, but also that he needed to get the job done in the classroom in order to have a productive career down the road.
Once high school came, this would be the time to see if he would lose focus of his goals, or take a step forward to his dreams. Like Mr. Ainge has done his whole life, he not only went above and beyond in sports, but his grades were excellent. Erik saw his first varsity football action as a freshman.
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Erik started to get recognized nationally for football during his junior year. He was receiving scholarships from a plethora of different schools for both sports. Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State, California, and Tennessee were all in the mix and trying to draw him to come and attend their University. He didn’t let all of the attention get to his head, and stayed on his path. As usual, he excelled in the class room with all A’s a junior. After his senior year in football, and setting many school records, Erik Ainge decided to choose the University of Tennessee to play his college football at. This was a huge deal with the community and the school because Tennessee was a powerhouse college for football.
Erik Graduated from Glencoe High School with a 3.9 GPA, being honored as a Salutatorian. He didn’t have but 2 weeks after graduating before having to leave and go the University of Tennessee and start training camp with the team.
He started for Tennessee as a freshman and set the Tennessee Freshman record for TD passes by a freshman, and passing yards by a freshman. He led a productive freshman campaign before sustaining a season ending shoulder injury with 3 games left in the season. Erik rehabbed during the off-season, keeping his mind on his school and getting back to top form for next football season.
His sophomore season was a disaster. The coaches could not decide on whom to start, Erik, or a senior who proved himself during training camp. When it was all said and done, Erik and the senior Rick Clausen switched each game. The whole season was a waste, as the Volunteers failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in 22 years.
His junior season came and it started with a bang. Erik beat a top 10 football team to start the season, and was gaining not only respect from everyone, but also Hiesman notoriety (Award given to the best college football player that year.) He suffered an injury to his ankle half way through the season but the team still has gone 7-3 so far and looking to finish 10-3 this year.
Erik Ainge is a role model to all. He is someone who has to face a lot of adversity on a daily bases, and the pressure can mount on him like he is carrying a mountain on his back but he still rises above it and takes any challenge head on. Yes, it sounds like he has had an easy life, getting his college paid for, playing football, and earning outstanding grades, but you have to take into consideration a couple of things. He had worked his but off to play sports a child. A lot of athletes these days in collegiate and professional sports are ignorant and have no class whatsoever, but Erik shows that you can be a good athlete and a good role model while succeeding in athletics and school. His parents were a big inspiration to him while growing up and without their wisdom and caring love, he would not be anywhere close to the person and man he is to this day. Without the guidance of his family and the tough love that was put on him day in and day out while growing up, he might not even have gone to college! I believe Erik Ainge is a role model and relates to the everyday person so much. He faces situations that are tough and tries to make the best decisions. He is not cocky whatsoever, and enjoys giving back to communities and people. On the Tennessee Football team it is mandatory to put in at least 15 hours a term of community service, Erik does 30! He is the face of his community not only Hillsboro, but also to the University of Tennessee, and Glencoe High School.
I am not saying that Erik Ainge has no flaws in his bones; because we all do, but he is the type of person who tries to avoid trouble instead of antagonize it. He is the person who won’t let his friends drink and drive, and drives miles out in the middle of the night to pick them up to make sure they don’t drive and they get home safely. He is the type of person who told to jump, and he asks “how high?” Celebrities these days are looked at by hundreds of millions of people as these icons that do no wrong and when they do make a mistake, the public turns the other cheek. They ignore the fact that that celebrity is a drug addict, or hit his wife, and once that topic is not discussed and is forgotten, they praise them again. Too many people are being admired for all the wrong reasons. People value things like money, power, and fame. A lot of people don’t value the little things that people do for them or to them. They take for granted someone who never lies, or cheats, someone who is always there and has there back no matter what, someone who believes in them. Erik is the type of person that a lot of people these days wish they could be, or wish they could be around. Not everyone knows someone like that and is lucky if they do.
I believe the legacy that Erik Ainge is giving to the future is his humbleness, his focus, and his willingness to give back to others. These are traits that are not common in today’s society and is something needed in order for people to grow and for communities to grow as well. Think about it this was… If you have one person who is cocky, has no focus, and is selfish and then you have a person who is the total opposite, who do you think is going to be more successful in life and whom do you think people will admire and look up to as a role model? Exactly!
Knowing a person like Erik has really changed my life. I can’t imagine if everyone in the world knew a person like him, all I can say is the world would be a smarter, safer, and generally a better place to be a part of. I started to learn to not involve myself with certain people and situations, and it has been a positive experience for me. Realizing that school and family come first was an important ‘trait’ that I learned from Erik.
Erik is currently the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers. He has a 3.5 GPA through the middle of his junior year and is an academic All-American in football. He is having a great season and is said to be a lock for a 2nd round pick in next years NFL draft. Erik has made it clear to his teammates, friends, and family that he is going to stay and finish his senior year, and graduate in the spring of 2007 with a major in communications. He plans on entering the NFL draft and perusing football to support his family financially, with a degree to call back on.