Travis Early College High School football coach Joe Frank Martinez said he was motivated by the July 7 attack on Dallas police officers to bring together his athletes and police officers.
"Something just got my attention," Martinez said. "I wanted our students to know that law enforcement officers are not against us. Yes, there may be a bad one or two, but the majority of them are good people who want to help. I want our kids to know that violence is not the answer. There is a right way to protest a situation and a wrong way."
So Martinez invited Travis County Sheriff's Department deputies to address the Rebels football and volleyball teams. The deputies spoke to a gym full of students about their role in the community and the challenges of being in law enforcement before taking questions from the students.
Martinez said he hoped his Rebels got the message.
"Law enforcement…are here to help and protect us. My father was in law enforcement for over 35 years, and he has a family to come home to just like these law enforcement officers," Martinez said. "I want students to know that they can talk to an officer. I want them to know that is a dangerous career, but an honorable and noble career. I want my athletes to feel safe."
The dialogue is emblematic of a broader effort at Travis Early College High School, which requires all athletics teams to do a community service project.
The Rebels have volunteered at Dell Childrens Medical Center, during Special Olympics Field Day, by participating in the Rebel Reader program at feeder elementary schools, by visiting nursing homes and much more.
"It comes down to teaching and doing what we can to make this world a better place," Martinez said. "We had better teach our young people the right way to do things and give them the opportunity to serve their community, so we can leave it better than we found it."