Paying it Forward: Evan Oglesby
by Jim Gehman
“When I was nine years old I used to attend the Boys & Girls Club and nothing against the Boys & Girls Club, but I wanted more out of what they were offering,” Oglesby said. “I was born and raised in a small town and we had a few guys that made it to the professional level, but no one came back to kind of show me what I needed to do to become a professional athlete.
“I said I’m going to have a program that offers this and be able to help inspire kids and show them how to master their craft and everything that will really put them in a place of reaching their potential.
“Going off to (the University of Northern Alabama) and becoming a two-time All-American and becoming an undrafted free agent in the NFL, I felt a lot of guys that I grew up with could have had this opportunity too, but they didn’t dedicate themselves like I did to get here.”
A cornerback for parts of six seasons with Baltimore, Dallas and Miami, Oglesby retired in 2010 and soon thereafter dedicated himself to helping kids in his hometown and founded a non-profit – the Evan Oglesby Foundation.
“I was at that crossroad of what am I going to do next with my life. I wanted to do something that I love doing even if I didn’t get paid doing it,” Oglesby said. “I wanted to have a facility that I can gravitate kids from all walks of life. Put them under one roof and we all work for the same common goal.
“We took over a 60-year-old abandoned building and after renovating it, pretty much just opened the doors. We probably started with 15 kids (playing basketball) and then in two weeks we pretty much had over 80 kids in the building.
“I knew we had something that we could really keep the kids engaged in something. So we started with basketball and since we have involved to having a baseball program and we offer performance training to all athletes, all sports.”
In addition to the sports and activities offered at the center, Oglesby’s Foundation also has a summer camp for boys and girls ages 5 to 14.
“We have a four-week summer camp (in June) and each week we have a theme,” Oglesby said. “And not only do my camps focus on the sports part, but we add educational components. Kids have to write essays and read their essays out loud in front of the group. What we try to do is teach them about being critical thinkers and work on being a good public speaker
“We have football and then we have a leadership-fun camp. And what that does is introduces kids that are not athletes into our program. They’ll do a lot of group activities. We’re taking them out on fieldtrips exploring the community, hiking, we’re going tubing down the river, and we’re going to a petting zoo. It’s just a cool, fun camp. And then from there we have a basketball camp and then we have a heart of a champion camp, all athletes, all sports.”
Oglesby is pleased when he sees that he’s getting through to the young people, and he’s also appreciative of the support he receives from the NFLPA and PAF.
“I want them to understand there are people out there that want them to reach their goals,” Oglesby said. “And for the kids to actually get that, it makes me like a proud big brother. I’m successful and I want to show you how to be successful. And for the ones that grasp that and become the person they want to be, I know now that (we’re starting to build) our own community and coming together to help the next person.
“(The grant from PAF) helps tremendously. I’ve been funding this whole project on my own, and any grants that we do get, it helps. It just tremendously takes a large weight off my shoulders of how I’m going to be able to fund, get the proper equipment for the camps, educational supplies. It really helps out a lot as far as being able to do that. It’s just a blessing to be able to receive that help from an association that really believes in me and believes in my program. I’m blessed to be able to have those guys to lean on.”
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