Former NFL and BYU football player Chad Lewis visits Merit Academy

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Former BYU and NFL football player Chad Lewis speaks to international students from Merit Academy’s Space Program. (Cassidy Clegg)

Former BYU and NFL football player Chad Lewis spoke to high school students at Merit College Preparatory Academy in Springville on Wednesday, Nov. 19. He shared experiences from his LDS mission in Taiwan and his journey playing football in the NFL.

Lewis encouraged students to step out of their comfort zone and to take every opportunity life offers. Lewis received the chance to narrate China’s first broadcast of the Super Bowl. He agreed to do it but realized later he only spoke “Missionary Mandarin.”

“I did not want to look like a fool in front of the world,” Lewis said. “But I did not reject it. I practiced a lot. You’re gonna be asked difficult things. Talk to yourself, ‘I can do anything,’ and you can do it.”

“Don’t just sit there and wait for other people to help you,” Lewis said. “Learn as much as you can, get out of the classroom and use your skill.”

Lewis’s biggest challenge in the NFL was Michael Barrow of the New York Giants. Barrow trash-talked Lewis nonstop and tried to distract him when they played against each other. Lewis’s team played against Barrow’s in an important game, and Lewis was expected to score a touchdown. Barrow trash-talked him as usual.

“That was my worst route run in my life,” Lewis said. “But I caught it. You’re gonna have a lot of doubters in life. Please do not listen to doubters.”

Chad Lewis tours Merit Academy’s Space Center with Space Program students. (Cassidy Clegg)

Lewis came to visit Merit Academy because of a simple email invitation from Jordan Li, an international student from Hong Kong. Li’s first assignment as part of the Merit Academy Space Program was to write and send a business email. “(Lewis) speaks Chinese,” Li said. “I am excited to hear from him, and I think this will be a great presentation.”

Director of the Merit Academy Space Center Jon Paxman said he hopes students will gain critical business skills and get out of their comfort zones in addition to learning about astronomy.

International students were invited to attend the presentation, many of whom were from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These Chinese-speaking students had the opportunity to speak to Lewis in Mandarin after his presentation.

Paxman hoped Lewis’s visit will help generate fundraising for the school’s new Space Center, which will serve schools in southern Utah County, and encourage students to pursue a STEM career in the future.

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