UPDATED! Launched on Monday April 4, GOOD and the 2011 Ford Explorer will be devoting six weeks to the Reinventing the Outdoors Contest, which showcases amazing organizations like this one that are redefining the way we live, work, and play outside. Check in every day for a new story about the people, celebrities, and programs behind each organization. Help your favorite group win the $50,000 grand prize by voting for them starting Monday, May 16 through Friday, May 20.
After only a year in pro football, Arian Foster is now a rising star running back for the Houston Texans and has been crowned as “the NFL’s leading rusher” by many. A graduate of the University of Tennessee who writes poetry on the side, Foster started playing sports as a child at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albuquerque & Rio Rancho.
GOOD: How did you become involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albuquerque & Rio Rancho?
Arian Foster: When I was young, my parents would look for constructive ways for us to utilize our time during the summer and to stay out of trouble. The Boys & Girls Clubs were always the answer. Throughout my youth, I was involved in various sports at the clubs like swimming, tennis, basketball, etc.
G: How did the club make a difference to you as a kid?
AF: I grew up in an environment full of negativity and different temptations that could have led me astray from my goals. Albuquerque doesn't have the same resources for kids as most major cities, so we usually found that we had a lot of time on our hands, and idle time is the devil's playground. The B&G Clubs provided a safe haven to get away from it all. It gave me an outlet that allowed me to live a positive life. It also introduced me to different activities and sports that intrigued me, leading me to follow those dreams ever since.
G: Do you think the clubs are good at getting children outdoors and active?
AF: Absolutely. The clubs provide an organized, structured and safe environment for youth to play, learn and develop through different activities. Nowadays with childhood obesity on the rise, kids need to put the video games down and go play outside, and without the club, there would be less opportunity to do so. Playing and running outside as a kid helped me learn how to explore, be creative, learn and teach others, and I developed friendships that I still have to this day.
G: Is there anything you learned through your experience with the club that you bring to your incredible experience and talent as a pro football player?
AF: The NFL is a business, and it comes with a lot of pressure and responsibilities. However, every time I remind myself, "Hey, this is a game I've had fun playing since I was a little kid!" I remember those fun times growing up, no matter how big the stage is now.
G: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?
AF: My whole life people would tell me I wouldn't make it to the NFL. In the 7th grade, when my teacher asked me what I wanted to do and I replied, "Play in the NFL," she told me to have a back-up plan. She didn't tell any of the kids who wanted to be doctors or lawyers to have a back-up plan. After college, I didn't get drafted, and I was also cut from my current team. Then this past year, I led the NFL in rushing, and touchdowns, while becoming a pro bowler and First team ALL pro. My biggest accomplishment is overcoming limitations.
G: Why do you think the Boys & Girls Club of Albuquerque should win this contest?
AF: Our youth are our future and the foundation of our nation, so why not empower the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albuquerque & Rio Rancho to help them continue to change children's lives? It’s a win-win when you help the youth!
Images from the Houston Texans