Boller imparts message of education

WESTMINSTER -- Kyle Boller cradled the football softly and connected on dozens of short passes, accurately locating his little targets with a deft touch. Not a single pass was dropped Tuesday morning by Boller's budding receivers: the students at St. John School in Westminster.

Minutes before the Baltimore Ravens quarterback's impromptu game of catch, he connected with the elementary school children in the realm of education as part of the NFL's ‘Take a Player to School' program.

A graduate of the University of California-Berkeley who majored in American Studies, Boller imparted a message of education first, sports second.

"I can't tell you guys enough how important school is and listening to your teachers," Boller said. "Education played a huge role in my life. My parents really stressed education and accomplishing your goals. Whether you want to be a lawyer or a teacher, you need a solid education and you can get that through hard work.

"School's not going to be easy. It's going to be hard. You have to keep working hard and get through it. It's going to make you a much more successful person."

Boller was greeted by hundreds of purple-clad students who screamed in unison when the millionaire quarterback entered the gymnasium.

There was a ‘Welcome Kyle Boller" sign, and there was a prayer from a priest expressing hope for the last-place Ravens and Boller's recovery from a hyperextended right big toe that has kept him out for five games.

"We pray for the Ravens to have a winning season, and for Kyle Boller's toe to get well soon," the priest intoned.

One budding Mike Wallace wasted no time getting to the point when Boller opened it up for questions.

The kid wanted to know if Boller is going to play Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I don't know, there's a slight chance I might be able to play," said Boller, whom Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated might be able to be the third quarterback against the Steelers. "Hopefully, I'll be ready to come back in two weeks."

It was an especially fun morning for fourth-grader Lexi Kresslein, who won a sweepstakes held in each of the 32 NFL cities that's intended to encourage children to stay in school and participate in after-school programs.

Lexi rode to school in grand fashion, arriving with Boller in a black stretch limousine on Monroe St. The little girl also escorted Boller to the podium and got to hang out with the 24-year-old Southern California native.

"It was cool meeting Kyle," Lexi said. "He was nice."

For Boller, the visit felt like a time warp as he related his memories of attending school assemblies, doing homework and waiting for recess to start.

"It's all about the kids," Boller said. "I like helping people. To be seen as a role model, it seems all too soon ago that I was sitting in that seat and listening to somebody speak.

"As long as they take at least something from what I said, it makes me feel good. I was one of those kids sitting there and it means a lot to me to be here."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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