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OHS Football Players Mentor, Inspire Elementary Students through Adopt-A-Tiger Program

Ozark High School Junior Jake Hubbard had no idea when he signed up to participate in the Adopt-A-Tiger Program that elementary students would be asking for his autograph. But, that’s exactly what happened recently when the football player visited Cyndy Cobb’s first-grade class at South Elementary.

“I like seeing all the kids. They really look up to us. They’re all really cute and fun to hang out with,” Hubbard said. “I love doing projects with them and seeing how creative they are.” 

Hubbard is one of many OHS football players who have teamed up with an Ozark elementary teacher to visit the classroom and interact with students. 

“The Adopt-A-Tiger program is a service program that gets our football players out in the elementaries, serving as hopefully a mentor,” OHS Head Football Coach Chad Depee said. “We ultimately want this to be a purposeful and meaningful project. We would love for this not to just be a football season program, but something that is developed throughout the year.”

North fourth-grade teacher Meghan Reed said she wanted to participate in the program to support school spirit as well as give her students a sneak peek at high school.   

“Last week Brady (Dodd, OHS senior) came into our classroom and read ‘Salt in His Shoes.’ He talked to students about resilience, persistence and achieving their goals,” Reed said. “Sometimes it’s good hearing it from somebody who looks a little bit closer to their age and who, in their eyes, is a star just because they’re older. I think my students are enjoying being able to get to know somebody who’s older than them.”

Typically, the players read a book, follow up with a project or play a team-building game in the classroom. And, sometimes they even go outside and throw the football around.

Depee said the football team’s mission statement is “Builder of Men. Tigers for Life.” And he’s hopeful that the Adopt-A-Tiger program helps fulfill that mission.

“We just want to be able to give back to our youth. We want to be able to connect the dots in our school district and increase community,” Depee said. “And, we want to help young men grow up and mentor the youngsters.”