As a New England Patriot, Devin McCourty knows a thing or two about setting a goal and working hard to get there.
McCourty visited the O'Donnell Middle School as part of the Patriots' "Read Between the Lines," which is dedicated to the importance of reading and part of the team's "Celebrate Volunteerism." It is sponsored by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.
Before the start of summer, the challenge was for students in sixth through eighth grades to read 2,013 books. The students blew that mark out of the water with 2,090 books
McCourty talked about how the Patriots set goals and work to achieve them, just the like O'Donnell Middle School students did.
"Less than 3 percent of the players make it to the NFL," said the Patriot safety. "If you believe in every statistic you hear, you will never doing anything.
"Keep believing in your goals, and focus on reaching them."
McCourty spoke about work ethic, staying focused and keeping at it, something the O'Donnell Middle School students showed this summer.
Stoughton signed on for the program in the spring, and spent all summer working to reach it.
"We set that as a goal," said O'Donnell Middle School principal Matthew Colantonio. "At first, we were tracking it electronically, but we switched over to the old-fashioned way on paper. We were very glad when we got to (2,013). There were a lot of kids reading, some in the teens and the 20s to the 40s."
Molly Turner, a seventh-grader, was the top reader with 47 books read, while Alicia Dupont and Sarah Mullen were also honored for being top readers in the school. Those three and students who had their names selected had a private meeting with McCourty in the school library.
"I was very excited when I found out," said Turner, whose favorite player is Vince Wilfork.
McCourty said that he and his twin brother Jason, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, were encouraged by their mother Phyllis Harrell to read. Devin remembers reading the biographies of Emmitt Smith and Wilt Chamberlain.
"Emmitt Smith did a dance when he scored his first touchdown, but his father told him to act like he had been there before," said Devin. remembering reading "The Emmitt Zone."
The Patriot safety pointed out the importance of reading to an NFL player as they attempt to digest a large playbook every year at the start, and reading all the information provided to the team each week from the coaching staff. McCourty, who attended Rutgers University, said he would be in trouble if he hadn't worked hard on reading while in school.
"My mother would stay on us all time," he said with a smile. "I stayed up on my reading, and I encourage you to keep up on reading."