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Locke Emphasizes Education, Perseverance to Chanhassen Football Team

View images from Vikings P Jeff Locke's "The Greater Game" event, where Locke spoke to Chanhassen???s football team imploring them to always persevere.

CHANHASSEN, Minn. — The Chanhassen High School football team greeted Jeff Locke with the new "Vikings SKOL Chant," clapping their hands together and cheering as the Vikings punter walked onto the field Tuesday afternoon.

"Our faces lit up," said senior linebacker Quincy Kent-Schneider said. "How often do you get to have a pro punter or pro anything come out to your high school practice?'

"We were all really excited to see him," he added.

Locke spoke to Chanhassen's football team for almost 30 minutes, imploring them to always persevere while making the correct choices in both school and life.

The fourth-year punter visited the school as part of The Greater Game, a initiative started by former Vikings center Matt Birk that promotes core principles to help shape young men on and off the field.

Locke referenced Minnesota's Wild Card loss at the end of the 2015 season as an example of perseverance.

"There's going to be stuff in your life that makes you want to give up or shut down," Locke said. "I'm sure a lot of you guys saw how our season ended last year.

"But I was not going to let that stop me from what I wanted to get to," he added. "I can tell you that I worked harder this offseason than I've ever worked in my entire life."

Locke, who graduated from UCLA with a 3.89 GPA and a degree in Economics, also preached the importance of education.

The 27-year-old said that he emphasized academics in high school and college more than he did football. While Locke went to a Division I school, he noted that going the route of Division II or III shouldn't be looked down upon.

"My biggest thing in high school was that I did not separate the classroom from the football field in terms of my mentality," Locke said. "A lot of guys I went to school with kind of had this light switch … they'd go to school all day and be off in space, sleeping in class, and then they'd get to practice and think it'd be time to work.

"That's not how it worked for me," he added. "I wanted to beat all of my classmates in the classroom, and then I wanted to come out here and beat all my teammates in sprints."

Locke's words made an impact on a number of Storm players, including one on special teams.

"I definitely respect him," said Chanhassen senior kicker Noah Kersten. "He's a great punter and a really cool guy."

"It's really cool that he cares about the community and came out to see us," he added.

Locke also hosted a question-and-answer period with Chanhassen players, with topics ranging from  his high school memories to times of adversity that he's faced in his life to the Vikings current season.

He then offered advice to Chanhassen punter Ben Hicks during a special teams portion of practice.

While the Vikings sit at 5-0 going into their bye week, Chanhassen has a 6-0 record headed into Friday's homecoming game.

"It's really a treat for us to have Jeff here," said Mike Bailey, who is in his first year as Chanhassen's head coach. "He's having a heck of a year, an All-Pro season."

Locke is averaging 43.6 yards per punt with a net average of 41.3 yards. He ranks second in the league with 13 punts inside an opponent's 20-yard line and is third with 12 forced fair catches.

Locke wasn't thinking about his own stats or bye week plans while at Chanhassen, however. He was simply offering up advice he would have gladly taken when he was in high school.

"They were pretty locked in," Locke said. "I think when (a message) comes from a player who has been in their shoes, they might perk up a little more than hearing the same message from their coach all the time.

"It's always good to deliver that message and let them know that it's real," he added.

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