JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A nonprofit program called High School 9:12 is giving athletes resources to help them thrive on the field and in the classroom. The three pillars are sports, athletics, and life.
“I felt that our kids needed another platform that would showcase in a positive light,” said Ribault High School football head coach Marlon White.
White and the Trojans kick off their season opener against Creekside Saturday afternoon in the W.W. Gay Bold City Showcase.
This is also their inaugural year in High School 9:12.
Junior quarterback Nick Jones is ready to lead Ribault High on the gridiron and in the classroom. He believes High School 9:12 can help keep his grades high along with his performance on the field.
“On the field, it gives me exposure and a platform so I can showcase my talent to whoever is watching,” Jones said. “In the classroom, it will keep me motivated.”
White says that balance is key.
“We always stress academics first,” White said. “They know that if they don’t do right in the classroom, the field is a no-no.”
High School 9:12 gives student-athletes chances to excel in both areas.
It hosts six-week academic boot camps for SAT and ACT prep, workshops on how to conduct media interviews and offers scholarships to college. It is preparing them for the future, according to Tammie Talley, the director of Athletics for Duval County Public Schools.
“It teaches them how to talk to the media, how to prepare a résumé, how to communicate with college coaches and just be prepared for beyond high school,” she Talley said.
Several local groups are helping the program to expand, including Florida State College at Jacksonville.
“It gives them a well-rounded perspective of what they want to be as human beings as they grow up,” said Dr. John Avendano, FSCJ president. “What’s their career goal? What is their education and career goal? Be focused on that whenever possible. If they can use athletics as a vehicle to help them achieve their goal, then I think that’s ideal for them.”
Jones already has plans in place. He hopes to land either a football or academic scholarship to college and eventually pursue a career as a physical therapist.
“Anything I can do to stay close to sports,” he said.
In the three years of High School 9:12, it has expanded and is now available to high schoolers in public and private schools.
Orange Park and Oakleaf will also face off in a Clay County rivalry showdown in the Bold City Showcase at 7 p.m. Saturday.
John Sgromolo, the director of athletics for Clay County Schools, spoke with News4Jax about the matchup.