“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
That was just part of the message from “The Hip Hop Preacher,” also known as Eric Thomas, who spoke to area athletes, coaches and parents Thursday in Duncan Falls.
The event was sponsored by Storied Rivals Sports Media, Cornerstone Full Gospel Church and Ticketcrush Concerts.
Thomas, who grew up in Detroit, was a high school dropout who worked his way to success through hard work. That was the message he sent to those in attendance.
“You know how I got from homeless to where I am today?” he asked the audience. “I got excited about life.”
He shared his four keys to self-motivation and also passed along many other helpful things to the crowd of about 300.
“You can’t teach someone how to be all-in,” he said. “A person needs to have the passion, the drive, and the hunger to do that.”
His energy and enthusiasm throughout took hold with many of the high school athletes in attendance.
“He was phenomenal,” Tri-Valley junior Hunter Mohler said. “When he was talking about the why factor of why you play sports, that really hit home for me.”
Philo senior Steven Frazier also took hold to something in particular Thomas said.
“Our team needs to give effort at least 120 percent of the time,” he said. “If we want to win, we need to do that.”
Zanesville football coach Chad Grandstaff also was pleased with what he heard.
“It was nice to have someone with his background say the same things we have been telling our kids,” he said. “A lot of what he said echoes what we try to tell our kids in the program.”
Thomas, 42, was impressed with the turnout and enjoyed interacting with the crowd.
“I was shocked at the number of people that came,” he said. “The response was great and they were engaging, which means I got them to think about some things.”
He also said this is the perfect time to get his message across to young men and women.
“I speak their language and they understand what I’m talking about,” he said. “Kids are not used to motivational speakers, but if you say the right things to them now, that can carry with them later in life.”