Football? Academics? Scholarship student chooses both at Dartmouth

Robert Crockett III is headed to Dartmouth College to play football and study pre-med.

MIAMI – Robert Crockett III is engaged in hand-to-hand combat with his uncooperative red-and-white striped necktie as a photographer sets him up for the next shot.

On a bright, breezy spring day at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, teachers and fellow students say hi as they walk past without an ounce of surprise to see the affable senior representing the school. With his close-cropped hair and perfect smile, Robert is a star on campus.

Getting accepted to Dartmouth College has only added to the mystique.

“We need to buy him a lifetime supply of school sweatshirts to have him be the face of a Columbus alumnus,” said English teacher Bob Linfors. “He’s a success. I don’t know how much credit we should get for molding him, but he’s somebody to put on our posters.”

When Robert came to Columbus for ninth grade, it was his third school in three years. He excelled at a K-8 magnet school through seventh grade, but mom Stacy Preston, who also grew up in Miami, wanted Robert to get the big neighborhood school experience for eighth grade. It turned out to be too easy.

She knew about Columbus, where a nephew had gone years prior, but it came with a daunting price tag. Then a friend whose son went to Columbus told her about the Florida tax credit scholarship, which helps low-income families with tuition. (Step Up For Students, which publishes this blog, helps adminsiter the scholarship program.)

Stacy has worked in HR at the University of Miami for 11 years. She’s separated from husband Robert Crockett Jr., who works for a moving company. Neither went to college after high school, but Stacy is now just four credits shy of getting her bachelor’s degree.

She raised Robert with an expectation of college but said “it hasn’t been common in our family. That’s what got me back to school. I couldn’t push my kids and not be an example.”

Stacy didn’t know how Robert would do in an elite private school, but she didn’t need to worry. According to Columbus principal David Pugh, Robert excelled at the school from day one and is taking five Honors and two Advanced Placement courses as a senior.

“Sometimes it can be a difficult transition to a competitive college preparatory school, and he’s met all of our expectations,” Pugh said. “For four years, Robert has worn his uniform impeccably.”

Robert wears another uniform as captain of the football team.

Growing up in this football-crazed city, Robert fell in love with the sport at age four. He put on his 11-year-old brother’s helmet and pads and ran around his house and yard yelling, “Hut! Hut!”

“The helmet was about to take him over, the pads were way too big,” Stacy recalled. “It was super cute. But that’s him. He’s been at this a long time.”

Dad was the football parent who coached pee wee leagues. Mom was the school parent who demanded that academics come first. She’d seen other parents put sports first and wasn’t having it.

Today, Stacy simultaneously beams and deflects credit when she talks about Dartmouth. From an early age, she guided Robert, the second of her three boys. But he didn’t need much pushing.

“He saw how I was with his older brother,” she said. “You came in, sat down, got a snack and did your homework. As a little kid, Robert would want to do homework, too, and he wasn’t even in school. We would have to sit him at the table with his older brother and give him pencil and paper, and he couldn’t even spell his name yet. That’s just been him from the very beginning. He was a different kid.”

The kind who could learn from others’ mistakes.

Early on, it was no TV or going outside when older brother De’vante Davis didn’t bring home good grades.

Later, it was the threat of losing football privileges.

“I just looked at someone doing bad and said, ‘I don’t want to be like that,’ ” he said. “I think about my parents and football. If I mess up that’s all over with. Colleges wouldn’t be interested. I don’t want to be that kid that messes up and gets everything taken away because I did something stupid.”

Before his senior year, Robert’s inner circle was mostly football friends, some of whom he’s known since pee wee ball. Some are big-time college football recruits, All-Americans who chose football-factory colleges like Alabama, Florida and Miami. Others went down the wrong road, but he’s lost touch with them.

Robert dreams his road will lead to a shot at the NFL. But he has another dream – becoming a surgeon – and he knows pre-med classes at Dartmouth will be more important than any game.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to an Ivy League school,” he said with an arched eyebrow and amused smile. “I don’t puff out my chest. I’m just staying focused, because me getting there and me graduating from there are two different things. I have to do everything I need to do first.”

About Christopher Columbus High School

Established by the Archdiocese of Miami in 1958, Columbus is one of 14 Catholic schools in the U.S. ministered by the Marist Brothers and the only one in the southeast. Within the Marist tradition, the school emphasizes personal development and community service in addition to a college prep curriculum that includes extensive AP and dual-enrollment classes. More than half of the staff hold advanced degrees. Accredited by AdvancEd and a member of the National Catholic Educational Association, the school annually administers the SAT and ACT. There are 1,688 students, including 250 on Step Up scholarships. Tuition is $10,700 a year. Financial assistance is available for qualified families, but each family must contribute something toward their tuition.

8 Responses to Football? Academics? Scholarship student chooses both at Dartmouth

  1. Tavarria Zeigler May 30, 2018 at 11:31 am #

    Robert Crockett III is an outstanding student and an even better person. Congrats on this well deserved success!

  2. STACY PRESTON May 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

    Very proud of him and all of his accomplishments, Robert always remember the sky is the limit!! Wishing him much success at Dartmouth

    💖 Mom

    • Lyonel Family June 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm #

      All of your hard work is paying off;being a mother with strength, supportive and stressing the importance of education. The expectations were necessary and i am bless to know as a single mom myself when it comes to my boys as well instilling early on the moral, values, expectations and ideas are non negotiable. He will be going to Dartmouth but not too far away from you rooting on for him and being supportive. i have two entering Columbus and i, too have set high expectations for them.

      Continued Blessings 🙂

      • Anonymous June 12, 2018 at 6:30 pm #

        Thank you, wishing your two sons the best. They will enjoy Columbus to the fullest, the best education they can get is in the palm of their hands.

        Many Blessings

  3. Chantel Norris May 30, 2018 at 3:21 pm #

    I’ve only known this young man for one year, and he instantly became one of those kids that I want my kids to hang out with. Extremely driven, determined and a natural leader. Congrats, Dartmouth is lucky to have you.

    #CPride

    • Anonymous June 5, 2018 at 9:53 pm #

      Nephew Robert Auntie is very proud of you and your achievements especially going off to college you stayed focused and kepted your head in those books i also give me sister Stacy Preston and his father Robert Crockett Il and his step father a big applaus for guiding him and being there for him i may not tell you all the time or show my love for you but nephew i love you and Auntie Gina is Bert proud of you go ahead and do your thing at Dartmout avhieve your dreams not someone else dreams (yours) and dont forget Auntie Range Rover lol love you nephew i just a phone call away dont be scared to call

  4. Rhonda June 12, 2018 at 8:10 am #

    Great Job nephew I am Proud of you. Your Auntie Rhonda. Best wishes at Dartmouth.
    .

  5. Grandma Cora June 17, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

    Robert,

    I am very proud and happy for you, although you would get mad at me when you were younger for pushing you to do your homework. But as you can see it helped and you kept focused on school work as well as sports. I am very happy you choose Dartmouth to complete your education. Don’t forget grandma Cora and your parents Stacy, Robert and your stepdad Dwaymond were there to help you stay on track. You turned out to be a very handsome young man so when you go away remember our love goes with you, and don’t forget to call grandma and your brothers and cousin. May God bless you on your new road too becoming the man you strive to be. Love you Grandma

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