When Valley native and Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk wasn't wowing his coaches on the gridiron, he was impressing his teachers in the classroom.
And now, Saguaro High School in Scottsdale is using him as an example that dreams do come true.
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"We talk about that — be great with everything you do on the field and off the field," explains Jason Mohns, Saguaro's head football coach. "It was pretty clear when Christian was a little 9-year-old bobblehead on the field. I remember the first time he touched a football and I knew he was different."
Coach Mohns says his talent and knowledge of the game set him apart instantly, and as an adult, it's been the way he remembers his roots.
"He genuinely cares about the people who impacted his life along the way," Mohns says.
"He had a sense of where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do and every day he succeeded at that," explains Christian's government teacher Ashely Crose. "I told him when he was a student in my class, 'I'm going to buy your jersey when you're rich and famous and wear it.'"
"He sat down, got down to business," explains Christopher Brandt, who was Christian's chemistry teacher.
Mr. Brandt says he remembers how accepting and open Christian was to the rest of his classmates.
"If I had to say one thing about Christian Kirk, it's that he respected not only the faculty but also his fellow students. If there was a kid who didn't have a lab partner, I'd always put them with him. He accepted all kinds of kids."
"That's what really matters," says Coach Mohns. "Who you are as a person when the game is gone. Because the game will end for everybody at some point. The impact you make on people carries on."