Former NFL linebacker will speak at Ridgefield High School


Former NFL linebacker Thomas Williams will speak at Ridgefield High School during an event open to the public on Aug. 22.

Williams, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft, later went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills and the Carolina Panthers. 

He is now a speaker and an author. 

During his presentation, Williams plans to teach student athletes how to not only win while on a team, but how to also win later in life. 

Getting the former NFL star to come to Ridgefield took a bit of planning that also involved a well-known author who is connected to Williams.  

“Every year we kind of look for a theme for the upcoming year and for convocation, and we try and use the last year and figure (out) what worked, what didn’t, how it landed,” said Ridgefield’s Assistant Superintendent Chris Griffith. “This year, we really wanted to move toward an outdoor theme, like a camping theme. We wanted to find a motivational speaker that had an outdoor kind of vibe to tie into our theme.”

He said the district reached out to a number of people to find the right fit for a motivational speaker. Griffith then came across Jon Gordon’s book “The Power of Positive Leadership.” He reached out to the bestselling author’s team and asked him to come speak at Ridgefield High School. 

While that didn’t work out, Griffith discovered Gordon has a team of speakers who work independently from Gordon, but help deliver his message. The author helped connect officials at the Ridgefield School District with Williams. 

“Dr. (Nathan) McCann and I reached out to Thomas Williams, spent some time on the phone and video chatting to find out his story and who he was, and the kind of background and speaker he could be, and decided he would be exactly what we were looking for,” Griffith said.

During his Ridgefield appearance, Williams will speak about some of the tenets of Gordon’s books. 

Since the students are still adjusting to in-person classes following the COVID-19 pandemic, Griffith hopes they gain more motivation and are inspired to start the upcoming school year with excitement and energy. 

Griffith said Williams will speak to athletes, coaches and parents. He will tie in his football experiences and how he dealt with a career-ending neck injury, with what he has learned from Gordon. 

Communications Director Joe Vajgrt said the school district’s convocation is a day for staff members to join together at the end of the summer to help kick off a new school year. 

The event includes a motivational speaker to try to inspire people for the upcoming school year before the district employees break out into individual professional development sessions. 

Vajgrt hopes students leave with a sense of positivity and perseverance from the speech Williams is set to give.

The presentation, which is open to the public, will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Performing Arts Center at Ridgefield High School, 2630 S. Hillhurst Road.


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