CFL Hall of Famer Clemons imparts life lessons

Senior School students at Trinity College School were blessed to receive a lifetime of wisdom from CFL legend, Hall of Fame running back Michael “Pinball” Clemons during a virtual presentation on Monday, September 21st. Mr. Clemons has been a guest speaker at the School in the past, and though COVID-19 meant he could not be with us physically on campus, his energetic and personal speaking style shone through online.

Mr. Clemons was introduced by Grade 12 student Kyle Munns, who outlined just a few of our guest’s incredible accomplishments over more than three decades in football, including as a player with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs before joining the Canadian Football League, to today, as general manager of the Toronto Argonauts. Mr. Clemons is a six-time Grey Cup winner, two-time CFL all-star, continues to hold the record for most combined career yards in the CFL, and is a member of the Order of Ontario, Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

He began his talk with the poem The Paradox of Our Time in History by Dr. Bob Moorehead, which was written after 9/11. The poem ends, “a time when you can choose to either make a difference, or to just hit delete…” Mr. Clemons spoke about how we need to be “bridge builders” in our lives, building connections to others, inviting peace and kindness into our lives and recognizing that “life is a team sport.” He spoke of the importance of being guided by love, referencing a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” He asked students and staff alike to “look for the best in each day and look for the best in people.”

Following his presentation, Mr. Clemons took questions from students about everything from how he defines success to his favourite music. He spoke about his own pathway, and how he was not expected to have a career in football due to his size, but took opportunities that came his way. He also pointed to a quote by NBA legend, the late Kobe Bryant, who said, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” He reminded students that his success was rooted in the fact that even though he would be knocked down 80% or 90% of the time, making yards on only a fraction of plays, it was his willingness to get back up and keep moving forward that defined his career.

It was an inspiring and energizing presentation that helped lay the groundwork for our students to face the current challenges of this school year and succeed.