From budgeting to car repair, new program helps football players gain life skills


Photo courtesy of Chris Reilsono

Middle school history teacher Anthony Barbano presents a budgeting lesson as part of the football team’s Level Up program.

Elias Olexa and Sam Tobiczyk

Off-season training for football players often means time in the weight room, but sophomore Logan Murphy and the rest of the Highlanders also have been learning practical skills for real life through the team’s new Level Up program.

Murphy said he was surprised at how challenging everyday tasks could be, but he is thankful for the chance to learn.

“I think learning budgeting was my favorite memory, because I was surprised at how difficult it can be to budget your money safely,” Murphy said.

The program, started by history teacher and assistant football coach Christopher Reilsono, teaches players skills they can use in everyday life — skills that they might not yet know or have learned in school. 

“Basically, it is everything that I wish I knew at their age, ranging from how to change a tire to budgeting,” Reilsono said. 

The goal of the program is to help better prepare students for challenges in the real world, by teaching them skills they can use in the workplace or just everyday life. 

Reilsono has led some of the weekly sessions, and he also has brought in other teachers to share their expertise. Industrial tech teacher Chris Ross, for instance, taught car repair, while middle school history teacher Anthony Barbano taught budgeting.

In Barbano’s session, players looked at typical household incomes and how they can be used to develop a family budget.

Some eyes were definitely opened up about the true value of a dollar. ”

— Anthony Barbano

“I believe this program is highly effective,” Barbano said. “The athletes were extremely engaged, we shared some laughs, and some eyes were definitely opened up about the true value of a dollar.”

Reilsono said a session on car maintenance had a similar effect.

One of his favorite memories from the program so far was “seeing their faces when we reviewed what could go wrong if you don’t take the proper steps in car maintenance,” Reilsono said.

Murphy said he knows that players are learning valuable life skills.

“I would have to say that writing a resume was the most important thing we’ve learned this far, because it will help us get a job,” Murphy said.

Sophomore Bobby Benton, meanwhile, said the program fills a knowledge gap for players.

“It’s things that we don’t learn in school, so it’s nice to have it taught to us instead of having to learn it on our own,” Benton said.