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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Deleted Scenes: Marcus Washington

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. I hope you've gotten a chance to enjoy your weekend, and ideally a few of you made it out to the All Pro Dad event in Athens yesterday. Bernie's Dawg Blawg has some pictures from his trip with the fam.

If you haven't perused the newspaper today, I urge you to check out my story on Georgia's family man, Marcus Washington.

Marcus' first son came along when he was still a senior in high school. Both he and his wife, Selecia, had bigger plans for their lives. A kid wasn't supposed to be in the cards. In so many situations like that, the story ends badly. Marcus and Selecia defied the odds.

For any of you who are fathers, I have no doubt you'll have a profound appreciation for all Marcus has done to be a good dad while keeping the rest of his life in order, too. For those of you who aren't, it should give you a good reason to give your dad a call and thank him for all he's done for you.

And while we're on the subject of thank yous, I owe some big ones to Marcus and Selecia for giving up so much of their time for this story. I also want to thank John Jancek, who was on vacation last week but still took the time to talk to me for the story. (Of course, technically I was on vacation, too.)

Anyway, you can read the piece HERE, and after that, here are a bunch of quotes that I got from the principles involved but wasn't able to squeeze into the story...

Marcus Washington on balancing football and family life...
"It gets rough sometimes because it's always a clash with time. Going to school, going to football practice and I've got a part time job – taking all those things into perspective and then coming home and spending time with your family, it's a lot to balance. It's rough, but you just have to keep your priorities straight."

Marcus on why he decided to get married...

"We had been dating since sophomore year in high school. We'd been together for forever it seems. We had our first child when we were in high school. We had been through a lot of stuff together – a lot of ups, a lot of downs – and I just knew she was the one. And if not now, then when? So we went ahead and tied the not, and I'm just trying to do things the right way by my son and by her."

Marcus on his first reactions to learning he was going to have a child...

"I didn't know what was going to go on with my future at that point. When I found out she was pregnant, it was before I had committed to play here. I wasn't sure whether that was going to cost me my scholarship or what. But I told the coaches about it and they said as long as you and her are on good terms and you do right by your son, because for a child, especially a little boy, there's nothing like a father. They supported me, my parents supported me. It was a tough time, especially financially because kids aren't cheap. I really relied a lot on my mom and dad and her parents when we were in high school. Whenever we needed something like diapers or clothes for them, they really kicked in a lot. Now that I'm in college, I've really wanted to take that into my own hands because it's my child, not theirs. So I got my job so whenever he needs something, his dad can get it for him. We don't have to call grandma or granddad."

Marcus on the family environment at Georgia...

"The kids get along great with all the guys. Marcus Jr. calls all the guys on the team 'Uncle.' It's Uncle Rennie or Uncle Knowshon or Uncle Byrd. The coaches' sons, he runs around and plays with them all the time. It's really his own little circle of friends. Just seeing the other coaches with their kids, I was like, OK, this is how I want to do it. I want to take care of my kids like this."

Marcus on living the life of a family man on a college campus...

"Sometimes they say, 'Come on and hang out with the boys.' And I say, 'I can't. I've got to go home and hang out with little Marcus and Samira and the family.' And they understand. They know what I go through. And sometimes they'll come over to the house and I'll put some food on the grill and we'll all chill out with the kids. And if their family's around, they'll bring their family over to the house, too, and we'll have a good time. We just have to find some nice family fun instead of going downtown or things like that."

Marcus on how family has helped him as a football player...
"It makes you realize that you have to be responsible for your actions. Everybody has an assignment, and that's your responsibility. You either did it or you didn't, and there's no excuse. That's the way it is with your kids. You either fed him or you didn't. He's either got clothes or he doesn't. There's no excuses, and that's the way it is on the field and off it. There's no excuses for how you live your life."

Marcus on overcoming the obstacles of being a teenaged parent...
"I never have been the guy to say I told you so. I never really asked to be a role model. I was kind of thrust into that position. But regardless, I try to do the right thing by my family and by my kids. When I hear guys saying they look up to me in a positive fashion, it does make me feel good, but it just solidifies that I'm doing things in the proper manner."

Marcus on how the other players respond to his kids...
"They always come up to me and say if I ever want to go out and do anything, they'll babysit the kids. I get that from just about every guy on the team. It's real nice knowing that I have that support system with all my teammates and that they really do enjoy being around the kids. Every time I come over they always ask where the kids are or where's the wife. They really enjoy hanging out with them and my kids enjoy hanging out with the fellas as well. It's a big old playground over there for them. They go over there and get to run around and there's so many people to play with and so many things to do."

Selecia Washington on her feelings upon learning she was pregnant in high school...
"We both had the same worry because we were both going to college. We were thinking that having a kid at this point in our lives was not the right time. Once we told our parents and we got their support from them, we kind of figured out then that it wasn't going to get in the way of our dreams and what we wanted to do, we got a little more confident about it."

Selecia on handling the criticisms of people at her high school...

"Our teachers didn't agree with it and thought we were being bad role models for our classmates. They actually wrote in the school newspaper about us being bad role models. We felt we were doing the right thing. Whether or not they agreed, that was their problem. We knew we were going to make it."

Selecia on what makes Marcus able to handle so many responsibilities...
"Marcus is very grounded. He doesn't let things get to him. He has a strong value about things and when he sets his mind to do something, he's going to do it. Marcus hates to fail, and he feels like if he doesn't keep things centered, then he's failing. He wants to make sure that we have what we need."

Selecia on having her second child, Samira...

"We were a whole lot better prepared. We were more grounded and had our minds set right. We weren't as young, we weren't in high school and we weren't depending on our parents anymore."

Selecia on the help their family has gotten from Marcus' teammates...
"It made it a whole lot easier. When we first moved here and we were both in school, most of the football players were offering to keep our son around our schedule, making sure someone was available to keep him."

Selecia on whether she is surprised that Marcus has accomplished so much...
"I've always thought that Marcus could excel at whatever he wanted. We've known each other since the fifth grade, so I know him like the back of my hand. Sometimes he surprises me, but I pretty much know what he's capable of doing."

Selecia on what she's learned from raising a family at such a young age...

"I learned that people are going to talk, but you can't let that get to you. Keep the goals in sight that you had before. You don't have to stop your life when you have kids. You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it as long as you support each other."

Jeff Owens on Marcus' family involvement...

"He always brings his family to practice and workouts. His family is always around here with us. Just like the coaches have their families around, he has his family here."

Owens on Marcus' personality...

"The way he handles his business, he's a quiet guy, but he handles his responsibilities and his family is his No. 1 priority. He's very mature. I think he has his family to support him and he knows that we're here to support him."

Rennie Curran on Marcus' leadership...
"Since I came in, he's not only helped me with football, but off the field with family issues and things like that, I've been able to relate to him and look to him whenever I've had concerns."

Curran on having Marcus' kids around...
"It's cool. We all love his son and his daughter. They're like our kids when they come around. It's an awesome sight to see everything he's accomplished here and what he's going to be able to accomplish and how he can affect his family by what he does here."

John Jancek on what allows Marcus to balance family and football...
"I just think that he has a tremendous amount of respect for his responsibilities as a father and a husband, and I think he takes it seriously. It's not something he views as a burden. He's really passionate, he loves his family. And when you're passionate and you have those types of qualities, it makes it possible for you to balance the two."

Jancek on his feelings toward Marcus...
"Marcus has a responsibility to his family and he also has a responsibility to football. He's done a great job of balancing those two and keeping a great perspective on both, and I'm real proud of him and the direction he's taken. It's been extremely rewarding to me to see him do such a great job as a father and a husband and also as a football player."

3 comments:

Mike In Valdosta said...

Excellent piece, David. Very nice. It is a shame there are not more stories like this published in today's society, for they surely exists in all walks of like.

Hobnail_Boot said...

Marcus is most definitely a role model. Great story.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely awesome. I have sacrificed for my two UGA sons since they were born. I would have it no other way. They, and my wife of 26 years, are the proudest accomplishments of my life. www.wedgeorgia.com