On Wednesday, those that wrestle for Selma High School’s youth program in Lemoore, Calif., and a local little league baseball team (coached by yours truly) got a nice surprise.
With Tachi Palace Fights 9 taking place in Lemoore on Friday (Sherdog stream starts at 8:15 ET/5:15 PT), two decorated UFC veterans in Gerald Harris and Efrain Escudero traveled all day less than 24 hours before weigh-ins to tackle topics such as motivation, work ethic and the importance of an education. They also touched on how important it is for youngsters to listen to their coaches and learn proper sportsmanship.
Explaining why he continued his education even after winning “The Ultimate Fighter” season 8, Escudero spoke with wisdom and honesty.
“I wanted to have a backup plan,” said Escudero. “I cannot fight forever.”
Harris candidly delved into the stereotypes of fighters and wrestlers and how a lot of people see him and assume he’s a bad guy. The UFC vet stated he has four kids of his own at home and that he seeks nothing more than being a good father. He went over the dedication and pride he took from his life in wrestling and how it paid off.
I watched all the kids sit and listen attentively with smiles on their faces. While the talk was unfolding, one of the children indicated they were in kindergarten, and then proceeded to sit and listen to the entire speech without getting up and running around, which is amazing for a five-year-old these days (trust me, I’m a father).
Smiles weren’t exclusive to the children. Escudero and Harris beamed with satisfied expressions. Parents, too, pleased that professional athletes not driven by greed had reached out to the next generation.
In this day and age when it’s common for athletes to shun role model status, it was a ray of hope to see these two UFC veterans give back.