COOKEVILLE – Cookeville High School (CHS) has started a new tradition “My Jersey, Our Journey” where senior football players give their jersey to a faculty or staff member in their school who has made a positive impact on them during their high school journey.
“We had an educator see another school implement this, and they shared the idea with me,” said Michelle Bowman, Assistant Principal at Cookeville High School. “Then Julie Smith (CHS School Counselor), myself and football coach Jimmy Maynard came together and thought this would be something great for our staff and build morale, boost the culture as well as allow the students a way to say thank you as they end out their high school career.”
Although teachers make up the majority of the staff at CHS, they are not the only ones who can receive a jersey from a senior football player.
“This tradition isn’t reserved for only teachers or coaches. It is all staff in our high school. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administration, counselors, custodians, etc.,” continued Smith. “It is so easy to get bogged down on the day-to-day responsibilities that we have. Seeing the excitement and big smiles on the staff’s faces as a student hands their jersey over thanking them for the impact they have had on them is wonderful and is also a little reminder of why we do what we do every day and the difference it makes.”
This year, there were 16 high school senior football players who participated in “My Jersey, Our Journey.” This tradition gave students time to reflect and think about who made an impact on them as well how they got to where they are and who helped to get them there.
“This tradition allows us to show how much the teacher (or staff) made an impact on us, and we hope it lifts their spirits,” said Clayton Barrett, CHS senior football player.
Sam Harness, CHS senior football player, added, “I gave my jersey to my construction teacher because he has been with me the last four years of my life, and he has had a big impact on me. I also gave the one before that to my math teacher because I learned life lessons from her outside of basic math.”
Andy Crockett, CHS senior football player, ended with, “We definitely hope this tradition continues after we graduate. We love this tradition, and it is awesome to think you’re leaving behind something that will go on after you.”
Cookeville High School wants to continue this new Cavalier tradition for many years ahead.
“The plan is to be able to give jerseys out every home game day and hopefully expand,” said Smith.
Bowman added, “There are other athletic teams who are interested in participating. So, others will be added to this Cavalier tradition and that is exciting.”