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Shawn Christopher Oatis

By Leland Stein III
Fatherhood is a challenge! Too many seek to be the friend of their children, rather than  be the  parent.  A parent has the responsibility to say no!  A parent must take o­n the challenge of challenging their children, even if it means the child will be mad, at times dislike and/or wish they were in some other home.

Shawn Christopher Oatis of Chino High School knows what it is like to have parents that act like parents.  Having that strong family background that was relentless in its cajoling to “do the right thing” has made all the difference in Shawn’s ascension.

Wrote Assistant Principal, Douglas W. Paul, who is the head of discipline:  “In my capacity, I have had no interaction with Shawn.  This tells you that he is a mature young man, and is capable of adjusting to the growing pains than adolescents experience.  The Oatis family knows how to develop and instill in their children  the values needed to be a good person in a world of temptation.”

Wrote Oatis in his Watkins’ application essay concerning his respect for the role of family in his life, in particular his father:  “The constant pressure of being pushed further and further to succeed constantly hung above my head.  Why so hard? Why so neat?  Questions I found myself asking this man I call  my father.  With responses like ‘This is not good enough,’ and ‘You can do better,’ I soon learned why  and where I am today.”

Where Oatis is today is a Watkins  Award Finalist, the premier African-American scholar/athlete award in America.  He did not get there by happenstance...he did not get there by osmosis... he did not get there by luck.  He had what Bill Cosby has been preaching throughout America: solid parenting, coupled with an intrinsic motivation to “do the right thing”.

Doing the “right thing” in o­ne’s adolescence life is easier said than done.  Many - too many - have not been able to negotiate the life lessons that lead to a productive life. Oatis is the exception and he is definitely o­n the right path toward life enhancement.

Said Oatis: “He (his father) has instilled ethics, morals, and conduct in me that have put me where I am today.”

Where Oatis is today is a scholar athlete and potential Division I recruit.  Oatis, a 6-foot, 204-pound defensive back and running back, has earned first team All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) honors.  He is ranked as the No. 6 safety in the nation and the No. 22 ranked player in Southern California.  He also qualified for the CIF in the long jump and the triple jump.  As is the case with all Watkins Finalists, their athletic exploits bring them to the attention of the selection committee; however, its their academic resumé that seals the deal.

Oatis, a 3.85 GPA student, values education. “The word ‘push’ constantly sat in the back of my mind, not just with sports,” explained Oatis, “but in the classroom, too.  I am thankful that my father was as hard o­n me as he was.  I am proud of my commitment to high academic standards. 

I believe that education is o­ne of the most important things that a person can get.”

Noted Chino High principal, Wayne M. Joseph: “He (Oatis) is a very versatile student and has also been a member of our Science Club.  Shawn has taken rigorous courses, several honors and AP classes throughout his high school career.”

Backing up his commitment to education. Oatis is a member of California Scholastic Federation, National Honor Roll, Who’s Who Among American’s  students, and is a member of the science club and is a school representative in the Sierra League Conference.  Understanding that with exposure and opportunity, o­ne must give of himself, Oatis has worked in an after-school program, helped with youth football, and has been an inspirational speaker.

“For the past three years. Shawn has volunteered for the local Pop Warner Football Leagues,” said Chris Bonney, a football writer. “Shawn knows that youth football is a way to mentor young children and is a great way to set a positive example by displaying the qualities of a genuine and caring leader.”  Shawn is just the type of young man the Watkins Awards was envisioned to honor!  We are honored to have this dynamic young leader, scholar, and athlete in the Watkins Family.

Leland Stein is a veteran journalist/columnist writing for the Los Angeles Sentinel, Black Voice News, and Michigan Chronicle.  He can be reached at  lelstein3@aol.com

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