As co-founder of Champions Outreach Group, a company designed to help professional athletes facilitate and grow their foundations and charity weekends, I recently had the honor of conducting the Reggie Smith Charity Weekend 2012 the weekend of June 1-2. This week I gave my good friend Reggie Smith (now with his new team the Carolina Panthers) a call to talk football, charity and about his dad’s influence.
When interviewing Reggie, I must admit that Reggie’s answers were paraphrased. He is a man of few words and has been since we were teammates on our high school football team at Edmond Santa Fe (in our home town of Edmond,OK). He has never been one to say a lot, but don’t be fooled. You can feel his presence around with his actions on and off the field. Not only has he been a stand out athlete on the field, but has been just as much of a standout person off it. He has carried that presence with him through his athletic journey starting in high school and on to college when he made one of the biggest decisions of his life. Making the final decision on signing day morning, to attend the University of Oklahoma, put him in a position to have a stellar football career. These actions eventually led to him being a third round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008 and more recently a free agent with the Carolina Panthers.
As he continues living his dream as an NFL player, one thing Reggie hasn’t forgotten is his roots. You can tell from our interview, he takes family, friends, his charity and giving back seriously. I have had the privilege to work with Reggie and his Reggie Smith II Foundation for two years now and it has truly been an honor. Through his foundation I have seen Reggie support our alma mater’s sports and education programming. He has helped fund after school programs at local churches and provided luxurious food baskets to families in need during the Thanksgiving Holidays.
One of Reggie’s biggest ways of giving back is by playing host to the Rookie 31 Football Camp during his charity weekend. At the camp Reggie mentors registered campers and also sponsors 50 underprivileged kids to attend. This year his foundation teamed up with Official Signature Products to provide all campers with the Limited Edition NFLPA (NFL Players Association) ONE TEAM wristbands. Reggie even gave out his Signature #31 ONE Team bands.
Year after year, Reggie has had the support from his NFL friends in his giving back efforts. Guys like Dominique Franks, Gerold McCoy, Brandon Weeden, C.J. Spillman, Curtis Taylor, Deji Kareem and others have come out to help instruct and inspire the kids at camp and be a part of his charity weekend. Coaches, collegiate players, friends and local sponsors, alongside these NFLers, show continuous support for Reggie’s cause. This proves to show how Reggie’s generous presence is felt with everyone he meets. As you will read below, one man Reggie credits a lot of that “presence” is his father, Reggie Smith I.
In honor of Father’s Day, I caught up with Reggie to talk about his dad’s influence in his life.
Champions Outreach (CO): First off Reg, how has the offseason
been going in Carolina?
Reggie Smith (RS): It has been going good. Starting to really enjoy it here making the adjustment from the west coast to the east coast. Been working hard on the field learning a new system and terminology.
CO: Talking football and with fathers day coming up, what influence has your dad had on your career?
RS: He taught me to be very versatile at a young age. I played multiple positions growing up and he taught me about each one. That really gave me a full understanding of the game.
CO: What is the most memorable football moment with your dad?
RS: Having him and my family with me in my high school gym as I signed with OU.
CO: Favorite memory outside of football with him?
RS: Being a young age before I started playing sports and going out to the local college track and just enjoying running around and being out doors with him.
CO: Talking a little about your foundation and charity weekend, what influence has your dad had on those?
RS: He really laid the foundation for them. I knew I wanted to start them but be really turned my vision in to a reality. I appreciate everything he has done to help the continued growth of my foundation.
CO: What has your foundation and giving back to the community meant to you?
RS: I feel very blessed to be able to do it. Being a role model and helping kids is something I take great pride in. I know I am very fortunate to be in this position and giving back isn’t just something I know I need to do, it is something I want to do!
CO: I talked about your family, friends and sponsors showing support for the Foundation and charity weekend. What does that mean to you to have that kind of support?
RS: It’s great to have the people closest to me believe in me and my cause. It really gives me a great feeling inside knowing the support I have and how everything continues to grow for my foundation and the ability to give back more and more to kids and my community.
CO: What is one thing your dad taught you through out the years that has really stuck with you?
RS: Always work hard and put education first. He always taught me that sports and football could disappear but my education could not.
CO: In closing and in the spirit of Q&A, I would like to ask you one question I love answering “NO” to for you and for other professional athletes from our community. Have you changed since entering the NFL?
RS: Absolutely Not!
Here’s to wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day and a special shout out to my dad for always coaching and being at my games growing up and now supporting and encouraging me in my young adult life. Appreciate everything!
Written By Justin Lane , Champions Outreach Group
Justin Lane will be a monthly contributor, highlighting NFL players charity and foundation work in communitees acrossed the country. For more information checkout www.championoutreachgroup.com
Follow @ Justin_R_Lane