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South Williamsport HOF Welcomes Eiswerth & Polk

Author Thomas Wolfe once wrote, ” You can’t go home again.” But as the two men sat upon the stage at South Williamsport High School, one coming from three blocks away and the other traveling 1,000 miles, coming home to where it all began was humbling for both of them.

For Chris Eiswerth and Nick Polk, the occasion was their induction into the South Williamsport High School Hall of Fame, joining eleven others so honored since its inception in 2014.

Although the pair have achieved notoriety in the world of sports, this homecoming honor was bestowed on them in recognition of the achievements made throughout their careers by the contributions they have made to society and serving as role models for youth.

A 1987 graduate, Eiswerth has taught for 25 years, the last eighteen as a fourth-grade teacher in Troy. His 27-year coaching career includes the past 13 seasons at the helm of the Mountaineers, where his teams have won 103 games and numerous league and district titles.

“I am very, very humbled. This is my home. This is Renee’s home. We grew up here. Both of our families still live here. That makes it really special. Anytime you can make a mark on where you were born and grew up, it makes it all that more rewarding.

“Number one, I am a mentor. I’m someone who is trying to help kids find their way. I’m a teacher, an educator, and, I would say, a leader. When I see kids do well, work hard, achieve their goals, and look at you with that smile, that makes it all worthwhile. There is no feeling like that.

“As they go through life, everyone hopes to find their purpose. I’ve been very blessed because I found my purpose. My purpose is doing those things I’ve mentioned day in and day out.

“As a teacher and a coach, parents share their children with me and my staff. Every year, you go through the process of building something. I would hope that each of the kids I have been entrusted to interact with can look back and take the things we talk about on a daily basis and carry them through their life. Hopefully, what the kids may learn from me will help prepare them for their life’s journey.

“During all these years of coaching, I have been fortunate to have the support of Renee and my family. Coaching can be rewarding but is a commitment, and if you don’t have that support at home, it is not going to work. She has gone above and beyond, and that has been a huge factor in what we’ve accomplished over the years.”

Polk, a 1982 graduate, echoed Eiswerth’s humbling comments.

“I’m really excited and humbled. It is an honor to be selected for any Hall of Fame, and being included by your high school makes it all that more special. I am appreciative of those who made and supported my nomination.”

Following his graduation from Lock Haven University, Polk embarked on a football coaching career that morphed into a successful career with the National Football League. During his NFL tenure, he served as NFL Europe Director of Football Operations and spent 17 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as Director of Football Operations and Administration.

Calling the 2016 Super Bowl experience with the Falcons “the most exciting thing I’ve experienced,” Polk now serves with Athletes First, a Gainesville, Florida-based organization representing elite coaches and executives in both the college and professional ranks.

“I was fortunate to have parents who instilled a work ethic, and I had the foundation of a good education. The thing that gives me the most satisfaction is my family, and we have two daughters who are grown and graduated from college. That is the most successful thing of any of life’s endeavors.

“But I continue to stress to young people it is all about the drive and the ability to enjoy the journey along the way.

“Professionally, it is all about people and those who have helped you along the way. You can never get it done by yourself. One of the things I always say is every day is an interview, and you just never know what may develop from the people you meet.

“Young people should take advantage of the mentors they have in their life, whether it be a teacher, coach, or family member. That is where the foundation starts. The definition of success is whatever makes you happy. It’s not about money or status. One thing a person can control is doing the little things that nobody else wants to do. It is easy to go through a career just doing what you are assigned. If you want to succeed and progress, you need to find a way to make yourself stand out that differs from the average applicant or individual you are competing against.”

Unlike the school’s decorated athletes, whose photos adorn the gymnasium lobby walls, Eiswerth and Polk’s likenesses will hang in the library along with those previously honored. That list includes Jack Garner, Heather Davis Meyers, Michael Gehret, Richard T. George, Eugene Landon, William (Nathan) Thomas, Paul Follmer, Karen Rake McCauley, John T. Engel, Rebecca Schneider Agure, and yours truly, for which I share Eiswerth and Polk’s humble gratitude.