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Former UGA great David Pollack visits schools, challenges students
David Pollack
Former UGA football player David Pollack is welcomed by Forsyth Central High School band members and cheerleaders on Wednesday before taking to the school’s football field to address students. Central was one of four local schools Pollack stopped at as part of Every Day Counts, a 30-day challenge for students. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

David Pollack has two simple messages for students in Forsyth County: Every day counts and finish the year strong. 

Pollack, a former football player for the University of Georgia and Cincinnati Bengals and current contributor to ESPN’s College GameDay, spoke at several schools across the county on Wednesday, including Forsyth Central and South Forsyth high schools, where he shared his story and challenged students to work hard and follow their dreams.

“We came in today and just wanted to speak with the kids,” Pollack said. “There’s been a lot of things in schools that have been discouraging lately, and we wanted to find some positive ways to impact kids and let them know that they’re loved and that we care about them.”

Pollack also challenged students to take part in Every Day Counts, a 30-day challenge to exercise and finish the school year strong starting on April 23. The social media component of the challenge is the Instagram page everydaycountsga, which already has pictures and videos of Pollack at the local schools. 

David Pollack
Former UGA and Cincinnati Bengals player David Pollack spoke at South Forsyth High School and three other local schools on Wednesday, where he encouraged students to get healthy and finish the school year strong. - photo by Bradley Wiseman
“We all have something that always stops us from exercising or working on things we need to work on,” Pollack said. “We’re going to send out videos to motivate, to inspire, to cover topics, but challenge everyone to do a little bit of physical exercise a day.”

South Forsyth High School Principal Laura Wilson said students listen a little bit more when the message comes from someone outside the school.

“What’s really remarkable when you have someone of the status and popularity of David Pollack is that students hear the message that we try to share with them every day, but they hear it in a different way,” she said.

During the events, Pollack gave his personal story including nearly quitting football in high school, being perceived as not talented enough to play in college and his NFL-career-ending neck injury. Pollack said after the setback, he focused on what he could control: his attitude and effort.

“It would have been easy for me to get mad. It would have been easy for me to get upset,” Pollack told students at Central. “The bottom line is you’re going to have things in your way. Life is going to sting. Life is going to hurt. You’re going to be faced with challenges. You’re going to be faced with your dreams being crushed. You control how you respond to that. You control how you answer that.”

Wilson said hearing from someone with life experience makes the lesson more real for students.

“He shared his personal story, and he’s had a lot of strife in his life, and he’s overcome it,” Wilson said. “His conversation about effort and control and your attitude — I think that’s exactly what the kids need to hear and need to know moving forward because every time something goes wrong you need to have the skills to cope with it.”

Mayor Troy Brumbalow, who attended several of the events, said he thought students were receptive to the message.

“I think the message was great, that’s why I wanted to get on board … making every day count,” Brumbalow said. “That’s time you’ll never get back. With all the struggles that teenagers go through, I think it will really make a difference in their lives.”

At Central, whose colors and mascot are right at home for UGA fans, Pollack was welcomed by members of the school’s band playing a rendition of UGA’s fight song and chants from the students.

He had received a similar reception at South, though he joked at Central he was more used to the “Go Dawgs” chants than the “War Eagles” ones.

Though he is frequently on national TV, Pollack said the crowds on Tuesday were unlike anything he’d witnessed previously and said the experience was “pretty awesome.”

“I’ve never got to speak in front of that many kids probably before,” Pollack said. “I’ve done TV stuff, but it’s totally different. It’s a different audience. You’re not talking to die-hard sports fans or die-hard Georgia fans. You’re talking to kids, and I think they are looking for a way to connect with you, so hopefully we did that, and hopefully, we inspired some folks.”