New Orleans Saints Lineman Matt Tennant Spends the Day with Eighth Grade Physical Education Classes
New Orleans Saints Lineman Matt Tennant and his wife Alex
Thursday, March 1 was a special day for the eighth graders at Coronado Middle School. New Orleans Saints Offensive Lineman (and hopeful starting Center) Matt Tennant helped Coach Thielman run the physical education (PE) classes all day.
Tennant and his wife, Alex, were in town for a charity event in Del Mar and have family in Coronado. Matt spent the entire day with the eighth grade PE classes. At 6’2” and 300 pounds, Tennant is someone you notice. When he flashes his smile and talks to you, it is soon evident that there is more to this man than his size. As Alex put it, “Football is only one part of Matt, it doesn’t define him.” Matt made it very clear to the students that although he loves playing football, he also has a Communications degree from Boston College. He knows he won’t play in the NFL forever and values his college degree for the possibilities it provides for the future.
Matt Tennant demonstrates the "Zig-Zag" drill for CMS Eighth Graders
He worked hard to get where he is. After meager success in Middle school, he attended a private high school and was fortunate to earn a scholarship to Boston College. The sparing success of his middle school teams made him realize that he valued winning and wanted more in high school. He worked hard, took the entrance exam and was accepted into a private High School that was a 25 minute drive from his house. He told the eighth graders, “You guys are so lucky. You can ride your bikes to school.”
Each class started in a large circle with their regular PE warm-up and after a brief introduction to Matt, divided into lines and began running through drills that the NFL’s Saints Linemen do on a regular basis. The drills help the players focus on agility, quickness and conditioning. After a couple drills, the class transitioned to “trash football”. There was a trash can on each sideline and the teams tried to move the ball across the field to score. The students had to work together to succeed and seemed to really enjoy this part. Matt was out there playing with the kids, too.
Eighth Graders participating in NFL drills with Lineman Matt Tennant
"Trash Ball" with NFL Lineman Matt Tennant
The class period ended with a question and answer session. Matt stressed with every class that drugs are not the answer. His message was clear, “Stay away from that stuff.” He said he wouldn’t be playing football if he did drugs. He also emphasized that attendance at school and completion of homework is vital. Even today as a player in the NFL, he has homework to do all the time. To earn and keep a job as a starter, you have to not only do what is expected of you, but even sometimes a little more. A typical day is spent with three hours of meetings beginning at 8 a.m., followed by three hours of practice and then an hour of weight training. More studying and watching game film is always in order.
Eight graders listen as Matt Tennant answers questions
Middle school is an important time in life. Alex emphasized that students “need to develop good habits because you are going to use them the rest of your life.” When asked if he ever loses concentration during a game because of crowd noise, Matt shared that the Saints execute their three and a half hour practices with a machine that plays crowd noise. He cringes a bit as he recalls for the students the first time he ever snapped the ball to Drew Brees. “My snap was late. It could have broken Drew’s fingers!” Drew just stepped back and shook it out and told him it was okay.
Matt Tennant and PE Coach Todd Thielman
According to PE coach Todd Theilman, the students “had a great time! Matt was very personable and funny and the students were very comfortable with him almost immediately. Awesome day!”
Matt Tennant and owner/operator of Crown City Inn, Melissa Miller
Matt and Alex both agreed they love Coronado for the weather and the sense of community. Matt said he was amazed at how everyone is involved. Alex loves the small town feel with the proximity to the larger city of San Diego. “It’s beautiful!” she said. A true example of the giving spirit in Coronado came from Melissa Miller, owner and operator of the Crown City Inn. She provided the accommodations for Matt and Alex during their visit and was happy to do so. “I can’t get up to the school much, so this is one way I can give back.”
What a great experience for our eighth graders!
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