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Professional football player finds far-fetched passion for education

Ray Shipman transitions his ChampionShips to succeed off the field

Ashley Montgomery | 3/20/2014, 9 a.m.
Former NFL player Ray Shipman speaks to children. Ray Shipman

When it comes to the classroom, the football field or a basketball court, Ray Shipman goes for the gold. Excelling in the classroom while being a student-athlete is something that Shipman is going above-and-beyond to teach youth in Miami-Dade County to do.

“This started as something that was just supposed to be a summer camp for me,” Shipman said. “I did not know that it would blossom into something so big.”

On Dec. 26 through the 28 of last year, Shipman and his team held a two-day Holiday Sports Camp for area youth.

After the Holiday Sports Camp had an overwhelming turn out — with nearly 65 children in attendance, parents wanted to know what was next?

ChampionShips is a non-profit organization that is committed to creating opportunities that will broaden the mindset of young athletes.

Shipman, a South Florida native found a love for two sports at a young age. He played basketball and football at Monsignor Edward Pace High School. He later took his talents to Gainesville where he was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Florida for basketball.

“I wanted to go back to my first love so I decided to change schools,” Shipman said.

Which led him to the University of Central Florida (UCF). Shipman has always excelled in the classroom and credits his study habits and attitude about the importance of education to his success. Also, Shipman’s mother, Rosalind has been a teacher with Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 18 years. In 2012 Shipman earned Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Public Health and is currently seeking a Master’s degree in Corporate Communications.

Education is key

“Education and sports go hand-in-hand, a lot kids love sports but no kid really likes

homework. . . so I teach them that education is just as important,” Shipman said.

Recently, UCF’s The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), “Keeping Score When It Counts: Assessing the Academic Records of the 2013-2014 Bowl-bound College Football teams examined the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for tournament teams as reported by the NCAA. The study also compared the notion of “Black athletic superiority” versus “white brains” that has been popularly discussed over the years.

“The gap between white and African-American football student-athletes continues to be a major issue standing at 19 percent this year,” read the report. “Among the 70 bowl-bound teams, the average GSR for African-American student-athletes is 65 percent, up from 62 percent in 2012.”

Shipman believes that it is a common misconception within the Black communities — that the only way to “make it” is to become either a professional athlete or an entertainer.

“When you look at the statistics in basketball, only 1.2 percent of student-athletes make it to the NBA and only 1.6 percent from football make it to the NFL,” Shipman said. “I’m here to let the kids know and to show them that it’s okay to have a plan B.”

“When people used to come to me and tell me this information, I used to as motivation,” Shipman said.