“Encouragement is an inviting voice that is going to enable youth to do great things, not only the field but in life,” Charger’s linebacker Larry English said at his first annual free football camp.
What people may not know is San Diego’s outside Linebacker has been committed to helping young student athletes since being drafted in 2009. Larry and his mother Susan English started The L.E.A.D Foundation to empower youth, provide them with an advanced education, professional development, and engage them in mentoring programs to facilitate dreams. L.E.A.D is not just about sports. Its mission that runs much deeper than the green on the turf. English’s foundation not only is trying to prepare kids for life by pursing athletic goals but also inspiring academic dreams. Larry is known to make surprise visits to see the students in his mentoring program (PRO) at Lincoln high School, as well. On Wednesday of last week, the players were off and Larry stopped through to help with homework.
Larry English is an Illinois kid; he played football at Marmion Academy in Aurora where he was a co-captain, MVP, and First-team All Suburban Catholic Conference both as a junior and senior. For college he stayed close to home, attending Northern Illinois University. While at NIU, English he had over 30 sacks and was named the Vern Smith Award winner which is given to the best defensive player. He also won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year. English was selected in the 1st round of the 2009 draft out of Northern Illinois University. While he is a monster on the field, English was also raised to value academics. English recorded one of the highest scores on the Wonderlic Test for his position. All of these culminating life factors truly unfolded for Larry to understand and have the means to start his foundation.
His foundation’s ambitions far exceed the mentoring program. On Saturday June 1st, English held a free football camp for high school players in San Diego at Abraham Lincoln High School football field. Chargers players came out to volunteer their time including: Malcom Floyd, DJ Fluker, Ryan Mathews, Darrell Stuckey, Toureck Williams, John Patrick, Devan Walker, Jahleel Addae, Mike Hill, Kenny Okoro, and Cornelius Brown. NFL veterans also stopped in to volunteer including Cleveland Brown’s Ben Davis (Pro Bowler), Erich Barnes (Former player/Larry’s Uncle) and Paul Warfield (Hall of Famer). D’Lush (a deluxe beverage joint) and Deuce Brand watches were two of the many local companies that were in attendance sponsoring English’s community work. Other sponsors included: Nutrition Zone, Perfect Foods Bars, Zico Water, Muscle Milk, Gatorade Santa Luiz, Position tech, Prime Sports, Panera Bread, Unicorn Jewelry- Fred
Nasseri, Sara and Josh Sonne , Kuhn and Koviak, San Diego Chargers, Dr. James Tasto, Tony Gormican State Farm, and Left Coast Links.
English, his teammates, and trainer to the pros ,Velocity Sport’s Andre Woodert, did a series of workouts with the kids to help them get better not only at the game itself, but at specific positions. Coaches where showing players how to tackle accurately for safely. They also spent time emphasizing work ethic on the gridiron and had guest speakers talk about everyday life skills.
Lincoln High school student Josh Briggs said, “It is special to have an NFL player actually care about high school kids. He is offering this camp to us for free. Mr. English has helped me out a lot so far. I feel like I will have a good football season thanks to Mr.English. I feel honored to be a part if this.”
Theresa Villano of Pro Player Insider’s was on the scene checking out first hand the role Mr. Larry English is playing with the LEAD Foundation and in the San Diego community.
Pro Player Insiders: Tell us a little bit about why we are here today with the LEAD Foundation?
Larry English: Thought it was a good idea as a player to get out in the community. I want to be that positive role model and help these kids. We wanted to reinforce (these ideals) with the camp. It is a free camp, as well. Really all the kids had to do is register. We help them learn the fundamentals of the game. As well as, focus on teaching them the fundamentals of being a good person.
PPI: What can the kids today expect from you personally?
LE: Personally, I give encouragement and an inviting voice that will help them to do great things on the field and also in life. I will be in front of kids I’m going to help them 1 on 1.
PPI: One of my favorite quotes is, “When much is given, much is expected.” You are giving the participants a lot today so what do you expect from them?
LE: (I expect)open ears and hard work. If I can make a difference with at least one kid that is great. I really just want them to be receptive.
PPI: Did you ever have the opportunity to attend football camps growing up like what you have put on today?
LE: I didn’t have the opportunity to attend camps like this when I was young. These camps cost money and in my situation my mother couldn’t really afford for me to go. I never went to a camp that was free but I definitely had role models. With my foundation I am able to do both as far as mentoring students and helping them build skills on the field.
PPI: As a student athlete how did you manage to get such good grades and turn it up on the field?
LE: It wasn’t easy I needed a kick in the behind sometimes. I had a good support system at home with my mom and not everyone has that. For that reason I wanted this camp to encourage kids.
PPI: How has your mom helped L.E.A.D.?
LE: In so many ways. My mom is the heart of the foundation and she makes sure it is running smoothly. She is really so influential.
PPI: At Pro Player Insiders, we are suckers for acronyms. What does L.E.A.D. stand for and who came up with it?
LE: Leading Education to Athletes for their Dreams. My mom came up with it. It was just so fitting and it has worked out perfectly.
PPI: What can Chargers fan expect from you this season and the teams new additions?
LE: We made new additions that are going to help the team out. Defensively, we are looking to add play making ability. I’m excited to be 100% healthy this year in the offseason and make an impact however the team needs it. Also, adding Dwight Freeney is huge. The offensive line additions were really good, as well. Everyone is going to make a difference and it’s great to add proven veteran players.
PPI: What are you looking forward from Manti Te’o and Keenan Allen?
LE: Great things. Keenan has a great upside and swagger for the game. He’s going to be great for us. Manti is a play maker and has proven that. I am excited to see what they do.
This is a side of NFL Players many do not see, but it is crystal clear that English is cultivating students of the game and classroom. The L.E.A.D Foundation free football camp is only one of Larry’s many priceless youth initiatives. Having NFL legends, local San Diego vendors, and over 15 teammates showing Bolt family support, truly reflects the respect people have for English and his community efforts.
Stay tuned for more interviews from Larry’s Chargers teammates reflecting on their experience and for the latest on Charger’s #52 follow @LarryEnglish52 @LEADfoundation and visit www.Larry-English.org
Follow @Theresa_PPI @PlayerInsiders for under the helmet access.
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Check out Pro Player Insider’s Gallery of Free LEAD Foundation Camp (Photos by Pete Santos):
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