CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Chad Hamilton always thought he would play football in the NFL. He did just that, before getting an injury which required surgery.
Hamilton studied math and education at Coastal Carolina University on a full scholarship to play football.
He was always interested in teaching after being inspired by some of his own teachers.
"I had that one 6th grade math teacher in middle school. He was that one teacher that really made an impact on me. I hated math, that was my worst subject. But he actually sat down, he took the time with me. He went problem by problem, step by step and stayed after school. He had patience. I saw that he really cared about me. And he cared enough to stay after school to help me," Hamilton said.
That's why making the decision to stop playing football wasn't that hard.
Now, three years later, he can't imagine doing anything other than teaching at Whittemore Park Middle School.
Whittemore Park holds a special place in Hamilton's heart. He did some of his student teaching while in college at Whittemore Park, and he even met his wife there.
Being a teacher has it's own challenges, but teaching middle school can be especially difficult.
"Grades 6-8 kids are trying to find out who they are. They're trying to identify themselves, they're trying to find a group to belong to…..they need that guidance, and they need that direction."
Hamilton was recently awarded the "Extra Yard for Teachers" award presented to teachers throughout the county by the College Football Playoff Foundation. He was nominated by CCU.
"At first I was in shock, I was like 'did they send this email to the right person'? Why would they want to nominate me? I'm just an average guy," he joked.
Hamilton said he is honored to be recognized but he doesn't teach for recognition.
"I do it because I love helping these kids and I know it makes an impact," he said.
With the award came $500, which Hamilton spent on school supplies – not just for his classroom, but for the entire 6th grade.
He credits everything he does to his love for his two children and wife.
"My wife tells me, take it one day at a time. Live in the moment. We say that to each other every day. Live in the moment. That's the only way that you can stay positive and be successful, don't worry about the past, you can't change that stuff. You can only focus on what is in front of you. Live in the moment."