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Keep up the good work Evansville.

EVANSVILLE — Two weeks ago, Chris Cooke and the Ohio River Bearcats semipro football team clinched a Midwest Football League Championship.

Cooke is a center for the team and has played football for more than 20 years, but Monday afternoon he set aside the pigskin — and his lunch break — to talk to students at McGary Middle School about the hazards of drug use and the importance of staying in school.

The program was the first event to kick off the school's Red Ribbon Week, a program established to help prevent drug use.

In its division, the team is ranked sixth in the country and will play in a national semipro bowl game in January.

Speaking with their championship trophy at their feet, the team members encouraged students to stay off drugs and excel in school.

"None of us would have the opportunities that we have today if we would have done drugs," Cooke said.

The six players who visited the school were all former students of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. And while staying drug-free is important for athletes to perform on the field, middle linebacker Jack Shepard said it's also important for people to stay drug-free in education and later on in their careers. And that's also something the team knows a little about. Most of the players are either college students or working full time, something that would not be possible if they were on drugs, Shepard said.

"Being drug-free isn't just important in football, it's everything that you do," he said.

Bill Holsey invited Shepard and the rest of the players to speak at the school Monday afternoon in hopes that the students could hear a positive message from area football players.

"We wanted to bring in some role models, and I think that the kids can better relate to these guys," Holsey said. "I'm just a teacher, so they probably relate better to these athletes than they do to me."

Re: News worth sharing

cook u sure can talk but nice job

Re: News worth sharing

I don't want to sound pushy or snide here, but there are opportunities like this out there for every team.

We get to play football, a game we love, and there are kids who look up to us for it. Are we really deserving of that? Probably not.

But whether or not we feel like we deserve so much respect, it is a big responsibility. We can do so much for our communities that I don't think many people realize.

Our recent increase in popularity here in Evansville has led to an increase in requests for our guys to come out and support charitible events and programs for children.

Getting out and participating in things like these goes a long way in showing the community that you're willing to go the extra mile for them. And I believe you'll find that they'll do the same for you.

Re: News worth sharing

I 100% agree with you, we have made sure we are in the spot light, as an outcome we are being noticed and we are not even in season. If we talk to another school I would like to be apart of it and as for cooke, he is a good person and will go out of his way to help anyone, I think he is a great leader for the community and a good role model.

Re: News worth sharing

Job well done guys keep up the good work,next time lets do a play.

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lol I'm not much of an actor, you should do a drama you would be good at it! lol just joking we can do the sceen of you and capshaw getting into it. haha

Re: News worth sharing

I was one of the six that talked to the kids words can't descibe the feeling that it gives u knowing that what the six of us said and did at that moment could change a childs future. I would say I would do this 1000 more times if I had the chance and any other team should to. A wise man once said true champions r champs on the field and off the field.