BY CATHERINE DUNCAN
Stephen Mackey, 2Words Character Development Program CEO, answered the phone anticipating a call from a worried parent or inquiring coach.
Instead, he was greeted by the fascinated voice of Memorial Middle School sixth-grader, Jerry, who had found Mackey’s number on social media and promptly asked if he would consider traveling to Harlingen to speak. Mackey told Jerry to have his coach email him and to make the trip happen.
Mackey held true to this promise and visited HCISD on February 26th, speaking to seventh and eighth graders as well as high schoolers in athletics. Mackey, full of energy and passion, addressed the students with the same sense of encouragement and astute knowledge seen in his motivational videos, which center around two key words of encouragement and guidance for athletes to focus on. The 2Words videos are shown weekly to athletes throughout the district.
“I hope the videos are encouraging to you and help you take the next steps to your journey and becoming that which you have the creative potential to be, that you become the leaders, the trendsetters, the fierce, goal-reaching, boundary-busting type leaders I know you can be,” Mackey said.
Hoping to convey these messages as impactfully as possible, Mackey travels to over 600 campuses throughout the state to speak directly to students, HCISD being his most recent endeavor.
“What I say in person is more effective and after I leave and they watch the videos, it’s not just some stranger, it is a coach and someone they can have a personal connection with,” he said. “You’ll lean in and learn more when you have that personal connection.”
Mackey stressed the importance of translating qualities and standards obtained from athletics into daily, advocating for students to maintain crucial values of commitment and perseverance. Mackey emphasized the need for students to distinguish who they should surround themselves with and expressed what individual actions can be taken to build a foundation that will cultivate values to ameliorate the future course of their lives.
“You can use your influence, your talent, your strength for the good of others to stand up for what is right and speak out against what is wrong,” said Mackey, “The lessons you learn from playing your sports build the skill sets that will help you be successful for the rest of your life. Everything you need to know to be successful in the game of life, you can learn from the game of sports.”
Drawing from personal experience and individual instances of adversity, Mackey encouraged student-athletes to make conscious choices to improve themselves.
“I don’t know what you left at home to be here, and I don’t know what’s waiting for you when you go back, but I do know this: if I had the power of choice, then so do you. You can start your journey today. You can start making the right choices today,” said Mackey.
The 2Words program is crucial to promoting a wave of change and determination that will motivate students in athletics to take their talents to new levels and advance their futures, regardless of which field they hope to pursue.
“At the end of the day, I want the kids to know that they are worth it, that the work we put in is for them, that when we say we believe in them and see leadership in them, we really mean it, and we want them to believe in themselves,” said Mackey.