Academics Were Mom's Carrot

Everyday for seven years - from third grade to ninth grade - Kapron Lewis-Moore and his mother Wanna Lewis traveled 120 miles roundtrip from their home in Ranger, Texas to school in Weatherford.

Lewis was a teacher in the Weatherford district, and Kapron was allowed to attend school there, which allowed the two to be in the same building until Kapron went to junior high.

But the two-hour roundtrip commute made it difficult for Kapron to participate in sports as a kid, because after leaving Ranger around 6:15 a.m., he wouldn't be back in town until after 6 p.m.

"He was still on the teams, but it was hard for him because he couldn't make all of the practices," Lewis said.

Kapron loved sports and when he entered junior high school, his mother made him a deal.

"I told him that if he kept his grades up, I would stay after with him for practices and games," she said.

So in eighth grade, Kapron played tight end and defensive end on the football team.

"Then when football was over he told me that he signed up for basketball," she said. "After basketball it was track and then baseball."

Lewis never dreamed of her son earning a scholarship, but she didn't mind the extra hours.

"I had to keep my side of the bargain because he was keeping his," she said. "Sports was my carrot; that's all it was for me. He was always going to go to college whether it was through financial aid or if he had to get a job. He was always going to college, there were no ifs ands or buts about it."

The family eventually relocated to Weatherford, so the long morning rides were over for mom, but Kapron continued to play.

He played defensive end on varsity as a sophomore and as he began filling out a 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame, he started getting some serious attention.

"One of my coaches told me before my junior year that I would be able to play in college, and I was like ‘What are you talking about?'" Kapron said. "But then I made Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 100."

Soon Kapron was hearing from college coaches across the country. He received scholarship offers from Texas, Michigan, Louisville, Kansas, Colorado and Wisconsin among others. But two schools quickly stood out for Kapron – Texas A&M and Notre Dame.

"We were very blessed to have the opportunity to choose between Notre Dame and Texas A&M," Lewis said. "It was overwhelming at times, but adventurous at times."

Both schools recruited him hard, but before his senior season, Kapron committed verbally to the Aggies, saying "I didn't think distance would be a big factor at first, but the more I thought about it, I wanted to stay closer to home and my family."

But when Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione was fired after the season and Kapron re-opened his recruitment, Lewis wanted him to keep his options open.

"I asked him to do two things," his mother said. "I asked him to think outside the box and not to limit himself. Not to try to do something for his sister or me because we'll always be here."

Kapron took an official visit to South Bend the weekend of Jan. 18 and had plenty to think about when he returned.

Still a week later, Kapron reaffirmed his commitment to the Aggies, saying, "I shut it down...Nada. No more."

But Kapron was still discussing everything with his mother, his coaches and his athletic director.

One day a substitute teacher in the high school overheard him talking with a coach about the tough decision and handed him a piece of paper. The paper had the same scripture verse on it that his mother shared with him on numerous occasions.

"For God has not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind," Lewis recited Second Timothy 1:7. "I'm a firm believer in prayer. I think it was God's guidance. I think he challenged himself to get out of his comfort zone more since that day."

Lewis wanted to let her son make his own decision, but like any mother needed to make sure that her son would be taken care of.

"I take my job as a parent very seriously. I think of Kapron as my best," she said. "I would be giving someone else my best. I stayed out of it until he asked me and at that point I shared my insights of what I thought.

"Notre Dame and A&M were very close when listing the pros and cons. It was really a win-win situation whatever he decided. I told him that he had to think past football, past four years. I told him that he had to think long-term, for the future. I left him to think about that."

Kapron revealed that his mother favored the Irish.

"We've always been close. She was the one that really talked me into leaning to Notre Dame," he said. "She really liked the school itself and how they recruit all over country."

Kapron thought about it and shortly before Signing Day he went back to his mom, who wanted him to be sure.

"He came in one night and said ‘Mom, I'm going to Notre Dame. That's my choice,'" she remembered. "I told him to sleep on it. I told him to wear it for awhile and see if it feels comfortable."

It must have felt comfortable, because between that night and Signing Day, Charlie Weis was telling the story of "the great player from a distant place that decided to go to another school." That player ultimately told Weis, "I came to my senses. I am coming to Notre Dame.'"

Lewis wasn't aware of exactly how everything went down.

"I don't know if that's what happened, but if it did, I'm glad he came to his senses," she said.

Lewis is confident that her son made the right choice for the same reasons that she asked him to consider.

"We won't know that for four years, but right now I do feel that he made the right decision," she said. "Notre Dame's record speaks for itself. After comparing them to others, I'm very pleased that he made that choice. Not only for the next four years, but for a lifetime."


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