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Victory must be earned in the classroom as well as on the football field.

That was the message at the Rosedale Jets Football Association’s (RJFA) annual awards dinner on Sunday, January 31. It was the culmination of a season that featured dominating performances by students both on and off the field. More than 200 youths were commemorated by the organization for their excellence.

“All coaches feel honored to have coached such a wonderful group of children,” said RJFA President Jacques M. Leandre. “The organization finished the regular season with a combined record of 41-2-2. It was a triumphant year.”

Academic prowess was also honored, with nearly 100 children qualifying for the Scholar/Athlete Award, given out to students maintaining an overall average of B or better.

Also on hand to honor the award winners and offer some sage-like advice was former New York Giant and two-time Super Bowl winner Lee Rouson. Speaking from experience, Rouson urged the children in the room to find their own identities and not to get caught up in what others possess.

“You want Bling Bling like this,” said Rouson, pointing to his championship rings, “you’ve got to go behind what you see to what you can’t see. In this life, you’ve got to dream, but you also need to have a vision for that dream.”

Rouson warned against becoming consumed by dreams of stardom and ignoring what is important to a healthy and productive life.

“Lots of us have dreams that sometimes turn into nightmares,” he said. “With athletic and academic success, the key is balance. You’ve got to know who you are.”

Sharing a story from his pre-National Football League (NFL) college days, Rouson told of the first time he met legendary receiver Jerry Rice. Rouson asked Rice who he was, and Rice answered that he was the greatest wide receiver of all time. Rouson was struck by the then-unknown Rice’s gravitas.

“I sensed great promise in him because he knew exactly who he was and what he wanted to be,” he said. “I also sense great promise in this room.”

The promise Rouson sensed in the room extended beyond the field and into the classroom. This he credited to the parents and coaching staff for their commitment to community improvement.

“My hat is off to the people here for stressing academics,” he said. “The NFL also stands for ‘Not For Long,’ so you better get your degree.”

Housed in Rosedale, the association competes in the Nassau-Suffolk Football League and includes the Pee Wee, Midget Black, Midget Gold and Senior divisions, as well as two Cheerleading squads, the Divas and the Princesses.

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