Chuck Ealey using success to help local youthWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For four years, former University of Toledo football star Chuck Ealey dominated the football field during an undefeated college career. Now he is using that success to help local youth gain an “undefeated spirit.”
Ealey was in Toledo on March 22 to receive a resolution from Toledo City Council honoring his work with the Chuck Ealey Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on establishing mentoring programs at local schools.
“I was raised by a single mom back in Portsmouth, and she always stressed the value of a good education,” Ealey said. “I am just trying to pass that message on to today’s youth.”
The foundation has set up mentoring programs at the high school (St. John’s Jesuit) and elementary (Rosary Cathedral, Queen of Apostles, and Lake Erie Academy) levels in Toledo.
“The program is in its infancy stages, but we focus on pairing kids up with faculty members or other qualified individuals to be mentors to kids in their schools,” Ealey said.
The former Rocket said the idea for the program comes from his mentor, former baseball player Larry Hisle.
“Larry really took me under his wing when I was younger,” Ealey said. “He really helped me out with dealing with many things in life.”
While Toledo is not the first city to benefit from Ealey’s foundation (he also has started similar programs in schools in Mississauga, Ontario), he sees it as an opportunity to give back to his adopted hometown.
“Toledo has become my home away from home,” he said. “My wife is from Toledo, and so is her family. Plus I spent four great years here, so I needed to give back.
“It’s a duty to give back, period, and I really enjoy working with youths.”
Ealey’s message is simple: Get a good education.
“Today, kids are too focused on things that aren’t realistic,” he said. “They don’t realize that only a small fraction of people are ever good enough to make it professionally.”
Ealey talks about his own career in the Canadian Football League. While it was successful, the former quarterback only played for seven seasons.
“Once your career is over with, the question then becomes, ‘What do I have to fall back on?’”
Ealey said unfortunately, most haven’t thought that far ahead.
“There are so many issues that people aren’t equipped to deal with in their lives. How many of these former pro athletes are broke now?” he said. “An education is the foundation to being able to succeed, and that’s what our mentors try and stress to the kids.”
After his career, Ealey went on to become a successful financial adviser and motivational speaker, and he credits his education at UT with making that possible.
“I went to Toledo for a solid academic foundation first, and football just became a byproduct of me going to school there.”
While there are a limited number of students who could make use of Ealey’s program, he said he feels all kids could benefit from having a strong mentor.
“I think all kids are at risk without the right information. There are kids that show wonderful leadership qualities but without fostering them along, they could go in the wrong direction.”
Ealey has not forgotten his alma mater. He also announced that women’s basketball senior Melissa Goodall will receive the “Undefeated Spirit” Award for this season. It is an accolade that Ealey is proud to bestow upon a deserving student athlete at UT.
“The coaches send me candidates throughout the year on who they think could be a candidate. The student athlete must have a strong sense of team, an inspiring drive, a strong academic record and demonstrate a strong sense of family values as well.”
For all his off-the-field success, Ealey says he still is most recognized for his on-field performance. After compiling a 35-0 record at UT, he said fans still see his accomplishments as untouchable, even continuing to campaign for him to get in the College Football Hall of Fame.
“With me and with any athlete, sports are just one part of the backdrop to life. It’s not about the success you have, but it is about the significance your life can have on another’s life.”