The man I am today: Kevin Givens speaks with students about his rise to success

“You gotta be selfish to get where you want to get.” – Kevin Givens
Kevin Givens signs the back of physical education teacher Tom Palfeys jersey.  Although Palfey does not collect autographed jerseys, he was excited for this particular autograph.
Kevin Givens signs the back of physical education teacher Tom Palfey’s jersey. Although Palfey does not collect autographed jerseys, he was excited for this particular autograph.
Olivia McMInn

On April 12, alumnus and Super Bowl finalist Kevin Givens came to the high school to visit with student athletes and coaches, as well as a tour of the new B building and a participate in a question and answer session. During this time, Givens discussed the story of his success and reflected on his past during his time at Altoona. 

During the Q&A portion of his day, Givens responded to questions ranging from his childhood all the way to the Super Bowl on Feb. 11 at the Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada. 

“I didn’t grow up in the best household, but that made me the man I am today,” Givens said. 

Givens discussed with students what he believes makes the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete. 

Homeward bound. Kevin Givens speaks with students while he was back in his hometown on April 12. Athletic director Phil Riccio organized Kevin Givens day on short notice. (Olivia McMinn)

“Supportive staff and having the drive to do better than everyone else… you gotta be selfish to get where you want to get,” Givens said.

Givens feels strongly about being back around the support system that helped him get to where he is today. 

“I am happy to be back and that you [students and staff] support me the way you do,” Givens said. 

Athletic Director Phil Riccio was overjoyed to have Givens come back to speak with the students he currently instructs. Riccio was the athletic director when Givens was in high school and has watched his career blossom from the beginning. 

“I’m proud that we have such great alumni that want to come back to share their stories, to show their paths to success,” Riccio said. “To come back and show our students that they can go through daily challenges and still make it.” 

Hatch was not the superintendent during Givens time at Altoona, but that didn’t stop him from appreciating having the alumnus come back and talk with the athletes and their coaches.

“I think it shows to the school community and the entire Altoona community at large what can be,” Hatch said. “Kevin shows to students here that anything is possible, and  you can’t dream a big enough dream. With hard work and effort you can achieve your goals. Don’t set the bar too low.” 

“Kevin shows to students here that anything is possible, and you can’t dream a big enough dream.”

— Brad Hatch

During the Q&A, health and physical education chair Thomas Palfey asked Givens to sign a jersey he was wearing with Givens last name and his football number (90) on it. Palfey has known Givens since he was in high school. 

I am not a person to ask for autographs from my favorite players, but I will always ask for one from a former student/athlete from AAHS that went on and did big things,” Palfey said. “I am so proud of the things Kevin has overcome and the things he has gone on to do and the things that he will go on to do. Most of all I am proud of the young man and father he has become.”

Making it big. A jersey signed by Kevin Givens during his time back at Altoona. The jersey was worn by one of Givens mentors, Thomas Palfey. (Courtesy of Thomas Palfey )

After the Q&A, Givens took the time to meet with many students and get photos.  During this  time, the 2024 Super Bowl was a major conversation topic.

“I was blessed. It was luck, and I was blessed to even be there,” Givens said.  “Excited and happy too. It was a good experience.” 

For Givens, making it to the Super Bowl was a surreal experience. When he ran onto the field, he had many thoughts running through his head. 

“I had goosebumps. Just thinking about how I got there and the memories,” Givens said.  “Just trying to make the most of it.” 

Junior Will Sankey was one of the students in attendance when Givens spoke with students. Although Sankey doesn’t have plans to go pro, he believes the advice Givens shared can impact all aspects of life, not just athletics. 

“I can use some of the advice Givens gave us in my everyday life,” Sankey said.  “It’s cool to have someone like Givens come back to Altoona and connect with us. It is nice to listen to someone who has done cool things.” 

Givens coming back and talking to students didn’t just impact the athletes. It had just as much of an impact on him as well.

“It feels good. I was happy to show them it is possible that they can accomplish their dreams,” Givens said. 


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