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Weber State football players tell kids to find a passion in school visits arranged by NIL group

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Apr 26, 2024
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Weber State defensive tackle Matt Herron, left, speaks to sixth graders at H. Guy Child Elementary on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in South Ogden.
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Weber State defensive end Brayden Wilson, left, signs a football for a student at H. Guy Child Elementary on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in South Ogden.
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Weber State running back Damon Bankston, top right, smiles as he speaks to sixth graders at H. Guy Child Elementary on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in South Ogden.
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Weber State football players, from top left, Brayden Wilson, Jacob Sharp, Richie Muñoz and Matt Herron watch as Damon Bankston, not pictured, speaks to sixth graders at H. Guy Child Elementary on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in South Ogden.

SOUTH OGDEN — A group of five Weber State football players made three recent visits to schools hoping to create stronger connections in the community and to encourage kids to work hard in school and explore extracurricular activities.

Senior running back Damon Bankston, senior receiver Jacob Sharp, junior defensive end Brayden Wilson, sophomore defensive tackle Matt Herron and sophomore quarterback Richie Muñoz spoke twice to classes at H. Guy Child Elementary in South Ogden and finished Thursday with a school-wide assembly at Highland Junior High in Ogden.

“It’s fun to share our stories and get kids excited about sports and education, and Weber State in general,” Herron told the Standard-Examiner. “I feel like a normal person but these kids have been super excited to meet us.

“It’s something fairly easy to just get out in the Ogden area and get Weber State involved in the community … we’ve got all these big schools around so that connection’s maybe not as strong as in other places. I think it’s good to do things like this, especially with kids who are going to look up to you.”

Taking a break from finals week, Wilson told sixth graders at H. Guy Child to “find something and follow it.” Whether that’s sports, art or music, the Farmington High alum said to find a passion and pursue it — and not to let video games derail you from reaching your goals.

“We’re just here to motivate these kids and share our experiences,” Herron said. “Push the importance of education, keep these kids in school and get them involved in extracurriculars because those are the things that have kept us going and got us where we are.”

Muñoz told students that sixth grade is when he realized working hard in school helps you do things you want to when you’re an adult. Herron spoke about his major in microbiology and said sports helped him learn to work hard and succeed in school. Bankston and Sharp encouraged students to stay on top of grades and listen to their parents so they can join teams, bands, and other activities.

Wednesday, players shared some laughs as they fielded questions about their football talents and off-field interests, drew names to give away signed T-shirts and mini footballs, and took some extra time to sign hats, shirts and shoes afterward.

The visits were arranged by Purple Dub Club, an NIL group for Weber State athletes led by fans Brent and Mequette Wangsgard, Tom Lakey, and Dustin Chapman. PDC has previously held dinner nights with football players and a fundraiser night with the WSU men’s basketball team.

Its members say they don’t take a cent from what they raise and hope to arrange opportunities like this spring’s school visits to forge more passion for Weber State in the community and to put a little money in players’ pockets.

“Even if it’s a small amount, it’s nice to know we have the support of some people with that,” Herron said. “Being a college student, money’s not always the easiest to come by so it’s a nice boost.”

PDC has hopes to stage a free or low-cost football clinic with WSU players this summer.


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