Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers has made a habit out of proving his doubters wrong, and now he's helping at-risk youths in Palm Beach County, Fla., do the same thing.
Flowers's non-profit organization, Prep & Sports, Inc., works to give students the resources and preparation they need to further their education beyond high school. Flowers's desire to help kids in his hometown comes from his own experiences as a teenager.
"When I was in high school and it came time to take the SAT, I was like, 'What? I have to take the SAT?' because I didn't really have any knowledge of the test," Flowers said. "A lot of the guys in my class were talented, but they didn't have the SAT scores to move ahead. So when I got to college, I really thought that there were guys on my high school team that should have been with me."
Seeing his friends left behind impacted Flowers. He promised that if he ever had the money to give back to his hometown, he would provide tutoring programs to help other student athletes.
Flowers was true to his word. He's now the president of Prep & Sports and spends much of his off-time working with students in the area. His organization has set up year-round mentoring and tutoring classes in which certified teachers help young athletes with their homework. It also offers SAT and ACT preparation for students who are applying to college. Flowers hopes that by providing these resources for the county's youth, they will never have to miss out on college like his high school teammates did.
Prep & Sports also has other activities set up for kids outside of school that are designed to both keep them busy and challenge them.
"We have a 7-on-7 tournament in July," Flowers said. "7-on-7 football is a big, big thing in Florida so I bring in all of the best high schools around, and I let them battle it out for a big gold trophy at the end of the competition."
Flowers uses the tournament to send a message to his kids that they have to work hard and keep pushing if they want to accomplish their athletic goals.
"When you're in your high school and in your own area, you feel like you're at the top of your game and that no one is better than you," Flowers said. "So I bring in teams from all over the state to compete and give our athletes a reality check. They get a chance to see that they may not be the best one out there - there are other kids out there working harder than you. That's how it's going to be in college, so get used to it."
Flowers's approach appears to be working. Many of his students have successfully completed the program and have actually returned to help others. The organization also keeps in touch with graduated athletes to provide support and advice when they go to college.
"To have someone care about how you're doing in college, you know, not even sports-wise, just goal-wise, is so important," Flowers said. "It gives me a great feeling to follow our students' progress and see them succeed."
Flowers hopes to continue building this program well into retirement. He also hopes that others will jump on board and lend a hand. If you wish to get involved with Prep & Sports, Inc., you can check out their website or follow them on Twitter @prepandsports. You can also follow Flowers on Twitter @BFlowers24.
Derek Ciapala has been an NFL fan since childhood. Whether it be a holiday, a sleepy Sunday, or traumatic Monday, there is always football on in his household. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
Source: Personal Interview
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- Brandon Flowers