Kitna's football earnings help ensure student success

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 6:40 PM

TACOMA -- The $53,000 paycheck Lincoln High School Teacher Jon Kitna earned for his one-game backup quarterback stint with the Dallas Cowboys will help struggling students.

“When he gave all the money to the school that just touched so many people’s hearts,” said student Ben Buapuaga.

Kitna’s earnings will impact more than 130 students, providing them with food, clothing and tutoring.

“When we first got here, we had 100 kids and only 22 of them that were above a 2.0,” said Kitna, who teaches math, weightlifting and coaches the school’s football team.  

In Kitna’s two years at the school, student cumulative GPA has skyrocketed to 3.0.

“Kids that had no shot of graduating are graduating and more importantly they’re having a good impact on their school and community around them. They live up to the expectations that you set out there,” he said.

 “I’m thankful for what he has done for my family, even though we’re having hard times he’s been there for us,” said Buapuaga, whose GPA went from a 2.1 to a 3.5.

Aside from helping student’s overcome personal obstacles, Kitna has also donated a state-of-the-art weight room and other resources to ensure success.

“If they need something, need somebody in a pinch, they have a question, they have a life question you want them to come and find you,” said Kitna.

Many students watched Sunday’s game anxiously hoping to see their teacher take a snap in the game.

“I was cheering him on, even though I’m a Steelers fan,” said Buapuaga.

While it’s been two years since the 41-year-old has suited up for a team, Kitna felt ready.

“Practices went really well, threw the ball well. It didn’t take long to get caught back up with the terminology and the practices and the meetings,” he said.

 With 180 plays on a wristband to learn, the backup quarterback made sure not to make any mistakes he’s known to harp on his players for.

“They definitely would have been watching, making sure my footwork was right, that I was looking in the right place, stuff like that,” said Kitna.

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