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Yale football coach visits Dorchester students

Posted by Zolan Kanno-Youngs  June 5, 2013 06:52 PM

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New Yale football coach Tony Reno spoke to Dorchester High students on Wednesday afternoon. (Zolan Kanno-Youngs / For the Boston Globe)

Coach Tony Reno is used to drawing up schemes in front of young players, but on Wednesday, he wasn’t in front of his Yale football team and he wasn’t just teaching football.

Instead, the Yale head coach was in a Dorchester High School classroom relaying to scholar-athletes the best strategies to get into college.

“Get yourself squared away and figure out your goals,” Reno told the students. “It’s so much easier because you all want to be here. You're on the doorstep, you’ve gotten yourself to this point. Now you've just got to get to that next step.”

Reno emphasized how lucky the Dorchester student-athletes were for having a Boston Scholar Athlete zone to focus on their studies. BSA was the organization responsible for bringing in Reno as a guest speaker.

“[We did it] to get the kids an experience with a college coach who knows what the expectations are of high school student-athletes,” Dorchester assistant football coach Joe Cain said. “Give them an opportunity to ask questions and figure out what they need to do to play at the next level if that’s something they want to do.”

Reno drew up two lists, one with academic goals and one with athletic goals. He emphasized how it was imperative to focus on both.

“Right now, it’s foundation time, so what you’re doing right now is that foundation to start your life,” Reno said.

One of the students listening intently was sophomore football player Javaughn White, who aspires to play in college.

“I benefited from this by just knowing that you can get into any school no matter if it’s an Ivy League or a top-ranked school,” White said. “Just know that if you put your best foot forward, the door’s open to you.”

Another huge portion of Reno’s speech was on adversity. He described how he loves seeing even his own children fail because they are given the opportunity to bounce back. He also gave examples of Yale football alumni who have failed countless times in their lives but still ended up successful.

“When you talk about high school athletics, when you talk about college athletics, when you talk about living on a daily basis, athletics teaches you to be able to deal with adversity,” Reno said. “To be able to say, no matter what the situation is, I’m going to push through it.”

At the end of the event, Reno invited the students to a Yale football game. He even said he might try to catch one of the Bears football games this fall.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at kannoyoungs.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.

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