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  • Brandon Bull

Physical Education & Greatness

Greatness comes in many forms. Most of us look at the trophies held, or medals placed around an athlete’s neck, but greatness can be other things. It can be the student who doesn’t give up. It can be the team who finishes last but spent a whole season improving and working together. It can be an athlete who stopped before the finish line to pick up a competitor and help them through. We all know a story of greatness, don’t we?


The question is… how is greatness formed?

There is an amazing article about Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota where he cites that greatness is formed by the people around you. Marcus won the Heisman trophy with the University of Oregon. On display at his university is an upside-down pyramid with the Heisman Trophy sitting on top. At the bottom of the pyramid, near the point is Mariota’s name. As you you move across the different layers there is different recognition: the names of little league teams he played on; the names of different coaches who invested in him and at the very top layer before the trophy are the names of mentors and teachers who helped him on the way.

Marcus explains the reason for setting out the trophy this way. “All those people believed in me,” he said, “and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today if not for them.” Marcus is very successful and chooses to focus on all the people who stood for him. He is driven by gratitude and close to the top of the gratitude list are teachers.


“Greatness comes in many forms, but it’s achieved in the same way – with the help of others. No person can be great on his or her own. There is no self-made anything. We all need help and we all get it.”


I love that Marcus focuses on teachers as one of his basis of inspiration because often times we don’t think of ourselves providing that motivation or inspiration. When I think of P.E. I think of my own pyramid.


For many of our students, we are the platform for their success. We are the foundation layer from which they may start a great journey. Fact is that all of our students are on a journey and whether they are the ones crying because they got tagged or they are the 1 per-centers like Marcus, we inspire each student differently and inspiring a student to not spend time eating chips on the couch is just as (if not more) important than reading about the Marcus stories.

The tears of frustration we see in class may become tears of joy later in life. I always tell teachers to embrace the tears – they are a teaching point of resilience.



Sometimes we look for credit and often times we don’t receive it. If I’ve learnt anything from reading Marcus’s story is that if the 1 per-center is out there acknowledging his teachers as one of the founding reasons for his success, then there is another 99 percent out there who would share the same sentiments. We just may not hear from those 99%.


As you begin your year in P.E. and work through challenges your students throw at you day-in and day-out, remember this story. Establishing a highly effective HPE curriculum is setting your students towards a path of success. Our job is to engage and inspire students and to promote healthy, active lifestyles. If you have read this far, chances are you’re doing just that.


Remember – greatness comes in many forms. As a teacher, we play a vital role in shaping students and their “greatness.” Keep up the good work.

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