Buckeye Football Team "Pays It Forward" At Local School

By Kyle Rowland on May 30, 2013 at 3:57p
Kerry Coombs does everything with a vigor.

It’s volunteer workout time at Ohio State. And it’s just plain volunteer time. A number of Buckeyes began their Thursday with some early morning training with Mickey Marotti and then traipsed over to Graham Expeditionary Middle School (GEMS) to refurbish the playground and plant a garden.

The “Play It Forward” program – a play on the famous Ohio State motto “Pay Forward – is a joint effort between the Office of Student Life and the football program, Lowe’s and Columbus area schools.

When Urban Meyer was a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes in the 1980s, Earle Bruce pounded the culture into his coaches. The impact Ohio State athletes can have on the Greater Columbus area is unique. Sitting in the 15th largest city in the country, Ohio State is completely immersed into the community despite millions of people in the surrounding areas.

“I don’t think people realize this,” Meyer said. “I mention it in recruiting, there are only 1.8 maybe 2 million people around Columbus, Ohio, and there’s no pro football team. That has to be the only place in the country like that, and we want to make sure we give back. There’s a reason why there are so many fans at everything we do. There are no other distractions.

Meyer and others gave the program an infusion of cash with a pledge of $25,000. He spoke of Woody Hayes’ philosophy but also gave credit to the enemy.

“I’ve seen all the different cultures across this country and there’s a culture in the Midwest and this area that’s not just Woody Hayes. He was a big part of it, but Bo Schembechler was too. There’s a pay forward mentality. There’s community involvement, a premium placed on academics and doing things the right way. This is our little way of adding on to that.”

In May, the Buckeyes worked at the Manna Café at the Broad Street United Methodist Church and helped kick off the Columbus City Schools Special Olympics.
“I learned from Earle Bruce that for some reason football players think they are something more than other students, and they aren’t,” Meyer said. “It’s our job to make them remember that. The good thing is my guys get it. There’s no pushback. We’re going to do a service project every year.”

Said Jack Mewhort: “Obviously we are in a position to give back, being Ohio State football players. It’s something we’re blessed to do. It’s been a lot of fun. Getting away from the Woody and doing stuff outside the box is good for the team.”

A few photos from today's event:

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