Guest speaker, Daron K. Roberts, inspires Upper School students to find their purpose

On Monday, March 27th Daron K. Roberts, author of “Call an Audible” which was named of one of Sports Illustrated’s Best Sports Business Books of 2017, spoke to the Upper School student body.

“I initially saw a story about Daron on ESPN and I wrote a letter asking if he would come to speak to our students,” said Heather Ewing, Upper School English instructor. “I wanted our students to hear an amazing story about perseverance and positivity.”

Daron started his visit by asking the students to stand up… and hug each other. “We all need room for more love,” he said.

Daron shared his inspiring journey about how he got where he is today. “Since I was a child, I set the goal that by age forty, I would be the governor of Texas.” However, that’s not how everything worked out. Although Daron has a resume full of very impressive accomplishments which could have likely gotten him to his goal, that wasn’t what happened.

After graduating from the University of Texas, where he was Student Body President for the largest student body in the U.S., he had his head and heart set on going to law school at Harvard. After applying four separate times, he was accepted.

“I knew the answer was going to be no if I stopped trying, so I never gave up,” explained Daron. “You need to grow a comfort level with rejection.”

During the summer before his third year at Harvard Law School, Daron volunteered at the Steve Spurrier Football Camp at the University of South Carolina. That experience prompted him to pursue a football coaching job. He returned to Harvard and wrote 164 letters seeking an internship. After writing letters to the head coach and defensive coordinator of every NFL franchise and 50 FBS teams, Daron received an offer to serve as a training camp intern with the Kansas City Chiefs. “I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, but I dedicated six months of my life to the team and my dedication paid off because I was hired as a full-time employee. If you want to break into a profession, offer up your services for free and then break into the role.” From Kansas City, Daron went on to coach with the Detroit Lions, West Virginia Mountaineers and Cleveland Browns.

Today, Daron serves as founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation (CSLi) at the University of Texas. As a lecturer at the University of Texas, he focuses on issues of leadership and innovation in the sports arena. He developed a course – A Gameplan for Winning at Life – that is taught to incoming freshmen student-athletes. During the course of each academic year, Daron teaches nearly 300 students. Daron has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader for creating a nonprofit football camp – 4th and 1, Inc. 4th and 1 provides free SAT prep, life skills development and football training to at-risk youth. The camp has served nearly 500 student-athletes since 2010. (Information provided by and

“I relate to his story,” said Roy Lewis ‘17 who has played football at Farragut. “Growing up I had a lot of plans of what I’ve wanted to do in my life and now I’ve changed them so I can relate. I wanted to be an actor, but now I plan to pursue a career in communications and journalism at Barry University. Daron motivated a lot of us because we got to see that he made it and what he went through to get there.”

“Every day I wake up and write down my purpose: ‘To help others identify, craft, and execute a gameplan for success.’ and I write down three goals of how I can live out my purpose today. Visiting you all today was one of them,” explained Daron.

Motivational quotes and advice from his visit:

  • Always keep a pen and paper on you.
  • “Choose purpose over passion.”
  • Be intentional.
  • Constantly put yourself in the position where you are chasing a dream and finding your purpose.
  • Write your goal down every morning and write three actions you can take today to get you closer to your goal.
  • Be relentless for success.
  • The grass is greener on the other side because it’s artificial turf. Don’t trust what you see, just keep chasing.
  • Keep your grades up and you will always have a chance.
  • “Lead from the front.” Leadership can be taught. The world needs leaders who lead from the front. People who are willing to say, “I’m going to use my integrity and courage, and I am going to help everyone get where they’re going.”
  • “Hope is not a strategy.” Put those plans into action. Be honest with yourself. What kind of impact can I leave in this world? And what can I do every single day to get there? Do it.
  • Watch Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005
  • How do you find your purpose? Take what you like from your job and focus on that. You can get a profile of the job you want and then go after that.
  • “Titles make for poor traveling companions.” That title is not enough to sustain you. The purpose will be.
  • “Fail fast.” Learn from it. Keep going. Do it again.
  • Never be outworked. You may have to put in more time than others and that’s okay.
  • Test your perseverance.
  • There’s extreme value in working for free. If you want to break into a profession, offer up your services for free and then break into the role.

More on Daron Roberts is available on his website or you can follow him on Twitter @coachdkr.