Don Cockroft, Kicker (1968-1980), Cleveland Browns
Former Cleveland Browns kicker and author of The 1980 Kardiac Kids - Our Untold Stories says that a number of great teachers are behind his success.
One of Cockroft’s earliest influences was his junior high physical education teacher, Mr. Campbell. Cockroft explains, “The first thing out of Mr. Campbell’s mouth was ‘Son, do you play football?’ You could say that was the beginning of my athletic career. Coach Campbell took a real interest. He recognized my athletic ability and brought the best out in me.
While Mr. Campbell put Cockroft on the path to a career in the NFL, his high school math teacher, Mrs. Corlette, pushed him out of his comfort zone. “She was the first teacher who looked beyond my athletic ability and encouraged me to get into choir and the drama department. “I’m so grateful. Her encouragement enabled me to experience many fond memories I otherwise never would have realized.
Teachers continue to play a significant role in Cockroft’s life. Along with his wife Barb, he has two brothers who are retired teachers, and his daughter and son-in-law are teachers.
“My daughter, Michelle, is so committed to teaching her kids. Her passion impresses me every day. And my son-in-law, Ron, is a wrestling coach and teacher. It takes people who care to bring the best out in students. Ron and Michelle are making a difference.”
“When I talk about someone who brings the best out in students, one who cares, one who is committed to students and their education I would be remiss if I did not talk about my wife Barb, a middle school language arts teacher for 35 years in Hartville, Ohio.” I joined her on her last day of teaching. Half of her students were in tears because she had made such an impact on their lives.”
I’ve heard former Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano so often say, ‘Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ I truly believe that. Teachers make a difference.”