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Tyger football team feels the love of their much-younger fans

Sherman Elementary School third-graders display their support for the Mansfield Senior High Tyger football team.

      When Jordan Monica’s third-graders at Sherman Elementary School thought about signing a card of support for the Mansfield Senior High football team, they decided instead to express their Tyger pride in a much bigger way.

      The result was a life lesson about motivation, love and support and a lasting bond between teenage football players and their elementary-school admirers.

      Monica’s classroom is next door to the classroom of fellow third-grade teacher Jonathan Bessick, a former Tyger standout athlete who serves as an assistant Senior High football coach.

      Bessick had a special request before Senior High’s opening game against Norwalk last week.

      “Mr. Bessick asked us to make a card for his team, knowing it was a big game,” Monica said. “But I wanted the Tygers to be able to see the young children they inspire and who look up to them.”

      Monica and her students talked it over.

      “We talked about how these players were once in third grade and how they looked up to the football players who were on the team then,” she said. “We talked about motivation and what it means and how knowing someone is cheering you on makes you want to do better.”

      The excited third-graders made several cards and large, colorful posters that said “We believe in our Tygers” and “Good luck, Tygers.” Another urged the team to “Go, fight, win” and proclaimed the Tygers to be “#1.” Monica took pictures of the kids holding the signs and sent them to the team.

      If you think the team wasn’t moved by the children’s support, think again.

      “It meant a lot to the team,” Bessick said. “One of the posters is hanging in the locker room and the team sees it before they go onto the field.

      “Guys like (quarterback) Cameron Todd and (corner back) Angelo Grose and others on the team realize they are role models for younger students, both on the field and in the classroom. They take that responsibility seriously.”

      Todd visited Monica’s classroom this week to thank her students for their support.

      “That was an exciting visit for them,” Monica said. “I have many of my students now asking their families to take them to the games to watch the Tygers. We want our elementary students to feel they are a part of the community.”

      The posters and cards were not a one-time project.

      “We will try to send motivational writings and pictures weekly,” Monica said. “Our entire goal is to make our community one and support each other in a positive way.”

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