Ricky Sapp recalls few positive outcomes courtesy of his many trips to the principal’s office.
On Tuesday, the former Clemson star and retired NFL talent was out to offer a new vantage point to a place most dread.
Sapp was truly the “Big Man on Campus” Tuesday, paying a visit to Myrtle Beach Intermediate School to serve as its “Principal for the Day.”
“This is the best visit to the principal I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s definitely enjoyable.”
Sapp said the opportunity was presented to him by a client visiting the training facility he works for, EAS Fitness.
“It was a client by the name of ‘Mrs. Ashley,’ I think she works in the school system,” he said. “She asked me about the opportunity, and thought I would be good for it. And everything went from there.”
Sapp spent most of the day handling duties typically maintained by Myrtle Beach Intermediate principal Deb Colliver. Among those tasks were securing all entrances for safe entry of students, attending an improvement council meeting and interacting with students.
“When I learned who would be (Principal for the Day) I was doing backflips,” Colliver joked. “You could tell once he came in that his connection with children was great, and his message was even better.”
A 2006 alum of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Sapp went on to star at Clemson before being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft by Philadelphia. In addition to the Eagles, he would play for the New York Jets, Houston Texans and Washington Redskins.
Despite the fact his career had yet to reach its conclusion, Sapp said he had an urgent tugging on his heart to impact young lives.
“I think about two or three years ago, I figured out kids move my spirit,” he said. “I think it is truly my calling to work with kids. I’ve always been that guy that wants to come back, and give.”
When I came through school, I got in trouble just like any other kid. But my teachers, my principal, my guidance counselors they all help change my life. I always hide that in the back of my head … when I have an opportunity to give back to a kid, that’s what I do.
Former Clemson standout, NFL player Ricky Sapp
For that reason, Sapp didn’t mind the countless questions coming from Myrtle Beach Intermediate students.
“Are you related to (gospel singer) Marvin Sapp?,” a student asked.
“I don’t think so … but I know I can sing like him,” Sapp joked.
Another young student asked what made him choose Clemson. Said the former Tiger linebacker: “I kept going and going, and I just fell in love with the place. It felt like home.”
While football and celebrity was at the top of many students’ list of questions, Sapp had a question of his own for the young scholars.
“Who are your friends? Who are the people you hang around?” he asked. “This is something I am real passionate about, because it happened to me. Five of the closest friends you hang around now, eventually that’s what you will end up doing.
“… Winners win and losers lose. You hang around winners, you’ll be a winner. You hang around losers, unfortunately you’ll be a loser. And that goes for family too.”
Colliver said that hearing such a message from someone who has “made it” can only motivate her students to walk the right path – in school and outside of it.
“You ask (students) what they want to be when they grow up and they’ll say ‘I want to be a football player or basketball player,’ ” the Myrtle Beach Intermediate principal said. “To see someone actually able to do that, it continues to allow them to have that dream.”