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Old 02-07-2009, 09:12 PM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Published: Saturday, February 7, 2009

By Denise Dick

Pittsburgh player to Poland pupils: Score with education

It was a sea of black and gold at Poland North Elementary School as pupils, teachers and staff greeted Nick Eason, defensive end for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It’s truly an honor to see all of the support that we have in this area,” said Eason as he entered the school gymnasium, waving a Terrible Towel.

Eason, 28, has visited the area several times. He became friends with Jim Battaglia of Poland through mutual friends.

Battaglia’s two daughters, Kaitlyn and Emma, in third grade and kindergarten, respectively, attend North and Principal Michael Masucci worked through Battaglia to arrange Eason’s Friday morning visit.

Battaglia, his wife, Michelle, and 13-month-old son, A.J., joined the girls at the school for Eason’s visit Friday .

“It’s been a busy week,” Eason told the kids.

After the big win, he returned to his alma mater, Clemson University in Georgia, and participated in the victory parade in Pittsburgh.

But he didn’t just talk about football.

“I can’t tell you guys how important school is and reading books and doing your homework,” Eason said. “Education is very important. Respect one another, and respect your teachers. It’s very hard to be a teacher.”

Not everyone can be an NFL football player.

“I know at any point in time, my career could be over,” he said.

That’s why education is essential.

As a child growing up in a small Georgia town, Eason didn’t think about playing football. His goal was to graduate from college.

“My philosophy is to just work hard and give 110 percent to everything I do, and if you guys do that, you’ll be successful, too,” Steelers No. 93 said.

As they awaited Eason’s arrival, fourth-graders Kaitlyn Shorter and Caitlyn Compton, both 10, sat on their knees discussing the excitement.

“I’ve met this guy before,” Kaitlyn said, at a Lowellville basketball game. Wearing her Troy Polamalu jersey, Kaitlyn describes herself as a Steelers fan.

Caitlyn is also a fan and rooted them to victory during the Super Bowl.

After speaking to the children, signing autographs and posing for photos, Eason visited each classroom.

Kendra Gura’s kindergarten class developed three questions to ask the pro player.

What do you like best about playing football?

“I enjoy playing on Sundays,” Eason said. “It’s fun to run through the tunnel and see all of the fans and their Terrible Towels.

It also provides the opportunity for him to do things for his family that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, he said.

What’s your favorite food?

The 320-pound player listed spaghetti, collard greens and cabbage, macaroni and cheese, pizza, fried and baked chicken and pork chops as a few of his favorites.

“Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert,” he said.

What’s your favorite color?

“Blue,” Eason said.
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