NAUGATUCK -- They may be no older than 12 or 13, but the decisions they make today could impact who they become as adults.
The right choices could put them on a path to success, while poor decisions could limit their college choices or maybe even their job prospects.
That is among the lessons students at City Hill Middle School learned recently when professional basketball player Thomas Baudinet talked to them about how to be leaders and the tremendous work ehtic it takes to be successful.
Baudient, who plays in the NBA Development League and was a standout college player at Div. 2 Saint Anselm College, warned students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the value of teamwork and how hard work pays off in the end.
The school brought in Baudient, a Watertown native, to help kick off a School Wide Behavioral Support program called "City Hill Pride" that teaches students to respect themselves and each other.
Principal Brian Hendrickson said many students play sports and that most say they want to become professional athletes one day.
“I think it’s important that they hear from a pro about what it takes to get there and the pitfalls and dangers they may face, as well as how to stay on track,” Hendrickson said. “One of the most important themes we discussed was work ethic and how becoming a pro isn’t just thinking about it while sitting on the couch, eating potato chips. It’s about working out, going to practice, hitting the books, staying focused all the time and staying away from stuff that is going to pull them down.”
City Hill gym teacher and basketball coach Ron Plasky said student-athletes have already seen how poor choices can affect them and their teammates. He said there were some players last year who were academically ineligible and some who didn’t want to practice hard, both of which hurt the team's season.
Baudinet told students that theme is common in schools across the country. He said he’s known some extremely talented basketball players who didn’t succeed because of off-the-court problems.
“Don’t let that happen to you,” he said. “Do the right thing. Be leaders. Make the right choices, and you will go far.”