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From NFL video game to the real guy

Students get a chance to Zoom with pro player, GVSU grad

Comstock Park — Fourth-graders in Olivia Obetts’ STEM class were delighted and are still talking about a Zoom call with NFL player Matt Judon.

It started when Obetts overheard a group of fourth-grade boys talking about the  video football game “Madden” and the players they had used. She heard the familiar name of Matt Judon, a friend of hers who played for Grand Valley State University and has played pro ball with the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.

As a cheerleader at GVSU, Obetts hung out with Judon and other Lakers football players. She told her fourth-grade boys that she knew him, but they were skeptical and couldn’t believe she knew anything about football. The students knew all the statistics about Judon, a linebacker who was recently traded to the Patriots.

“I convinced them to make a video for him,” Obetts said. 

Fourth-grader D’Andre Pryor had chosen Judon as his linebacker for the Madden game. D’Andre wrote a speech for Judon that Obetts described as “adorable.” D’Andre plays linebacker for his elementary school team, hopes to play professional football and told Judon that he would see him in 15 years.

“I was hoping he’d (Judon) would comment back to the video that of course I jazzed up with a picture of him in the background,” Obetts said.

Judon went a step better and set up a time to Zoom with the kids during their STEM class in late March. The students were beyond excited and still talking about it.

Questions for a Pro

Evan Bolek heard a football player would be talking to them via Zoom and figured it was a high school player. He was amazed that it was Judon. He asked Judon what inspired him to be a football player. Judon responded that he had a lot of gridiron skills and that his brothers also played football.

“I think I’ll remember this forever,” Evan said about the Zoom call with a real pro. 

Aidan O’Brien learned that if Judon could pick a team he would choose to play for the Miami Dolphins. Students also asked questions about dealing with the paparazzi and how he handles fame.

Obetts said one of the biggest lessons learned is that students see the football player as a human being. The students agreed that Judon seems like a nice guy. 

CONNECT

Matt Judon’s NFL page

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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry covers Comstock Park. She is from Evansville, Indiana and St. Joseph, Mich. and a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Central Michigan University. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years of experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be reunited with some of her journalism colleagues and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools for the School News Network. Read Karen's full bio

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