By John DeCoste
Be SAFE and be successful, says Will Njoku.
“Set your feet. Aim high. Follow through. Every day. That’s at the heart of the message I have for young people,” the former professional basketball player told local students on a recent visit.
Njoku, a former player at Halifax West High School and Saint Mary’s University and a 1994 draft pick of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, spent 10 years playing basketball professionally, mostly in Europe. He was also a member of Canada’s national team.
Today, Njoku is an assistant coach with the NBL Moncton Miracles and a motivational speaker. His own company, Will2Win, is what brought him to both Wolfville and Evangeline Middle schools Feb. 17.
Njoku travels around the country, taking his message to individual schools and groups, “providing what the educators feel their students need” in such areas as anti-bullying and building self-esteem.
He said deliberately makes his presentations interactive
“It’s all about the students, and the more interaction I can have, the better it is for them.”
His SAFE message, he believes, is the secret to success.
“Setting your feet is about getting a foundation in your education. Aiming high is about being willing to achieve your dreams. Following through is about courage and determination – and doing it every day.
“Put them all together and they spell SAFE. This is about how to become a SAFE student if you’re not, how to stay a SAFE student if you already are, and how to make this a SAFE school and keep it that way.”
Njoku used analogies from his basketball career to emphasize his points.
“You are the only one who can judge your goals, and judge what winning means to you. Aim high, and the results will come.” - Will Njoku
“To be successful,” he said, “I needed to be prepared, and with preparation comes confidence.
“It’s the same with your teachers, who give you a game plan to work with.
If you take the time to be prepared, the little details will allow you to meet your teachers halfway.
“You have a chance every day to make a good first impression. All it takes is being prepared and having an agenda.”
Aiming high, he said, “is all about believing in yourself, and your self- esteem going through the roof.
“You are the only one who can judge your goals, and judge what winning means to you. Aim high, and the results will come.”
Being positive, he stressed, isn’t always easy.
“The further you get ahead, the harder some people will try to pull you back. Believe your goals are worth achieving, and when it’s time to follow through, you’ll be ready.
“As long as you keep feeding your body, mind and spirit with positivity, there’s nothing you can’t do. I’ve always believed that, and I was able to achieve my vision.”
After his presentation, Njoku said talking to students and other groups has gotten to be pretty much a regular gig for him.
“I love it,” he said, adding, “the most I’ve done is 15 in one week.
“That’s the week I knew I wanted to do this full time. Come Friday afternoon, I had twice the energy I had Monday morning.”