N.J. Senator Corey Booker visits Laney College Field House to talk confidence, success
New Jersey Senator Corey Booker (D) was the featured guest at a gathering of the Laney football team dinner on Thursday, Oct. 20. The team, now ranked fourth in the state, has a tradition of having a meal together following their last practice prior to away games.
The former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party. He gave the keynote address at this year’s Democratic National Convention, speaking right before First Lady Michelle Obama. Booker was even considered for the role of vice president this year by Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
After a heaping meal of salad, spaghetti and bread, there was excitement in the air.
Laney College President Patricia Stanley, Executive Vice Chancellor of Strategic Planning and Advancement Elñora Webb, and Laney College Dean of Student Services Philip King were also present.
They, like everyone else, were waiting for the senator.
Webb got up and introduced herself to the team. She then introduced Stanley and King. Shortly, after she was finished, Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre arrived.
When the senator entered the room, there was a round of wild applause.
Although he is from New Jersey, he attended Stanford University before becoming a Rhodes Scholar and later attended Yale Law School.
Head Coach John Beam arranged, through mutual friends, to have the senator, who was in town raising funds for Barbra Lee’s re-election campaign, speak to the team.
Laney Football Head Coach John Beam and New Jersey Senator Corey Booker pose for a picture after addressing the team and assorted dignitaries. The Senator, who was an All-American and attended Stanford University, inspired the team.
From the moment he began speaking, Booker had the entire room hanging on every word he said. He told stories about being a football player and about his young adult experiences that the players could relate to.
He talked about mistakes that he had made and the goals that he had set for himself.
He told the players that “any one of you could succeed at Stanford.” He let them know that all they had to do was set the bar high for themselves. He suggested they write all their goals down.
He told them how he had written all his goals on a whiteboard and made a promise to get no grade lower than a “B” at Stanford.
He also told them, “Confidence is a choice, and I have seen people win just through confidence and swagger.”
He also said, “You need to model the changes you want to see in the world.”
Many of the things he said seem like standard inspirational speeches, but because they were coming from such a dynamic speaker, who peppered his advice with personal stories tailored to his audience, his audience was entranced.
After his speech, Booker opened up the floor for questions. The players asked everything from how he got through hard times to how he decided to get into politics.
At one point, Coach Beam interrupted to point out that one player, Bryce Grandison, had been elected president of the Laney Phi Theta Kappa chapter.
Following the question and answer period, Booker was presented with a Laney Football T-shirt.
Coach Beam reminded the players that a United States senator had taken his valuable time to speak to them because of their potential both on and off the field, so they should take his advice to heart.
The coach also reminded them that potential was a “bad” word because it meant they had not yet achieved what they were capable of.
That weekend, the team defeated The College of the Sequoias 35 to 6, moving from fifth to fourth place in the state.