Recently, Oakland Raiders LB Thomas Howard hosted students from the Bay Area After-School All-Stars (ASAS) at the Oakland Raiders permanent practice facility on behalf of his foundation, The Thomas Howard Foundation. The All-Stars had the opportunity to hear from Raiders Hall of Fame CB Willie Brown, strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll, as well as tour the facility.
Raiders LB Thomas Howard and the After School All-Stars pose for a photo in the auditorium of the team's Alameda facility. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Howard began his involvement with the After-School All-Stars (ASAS) as part of his Touchdown Shutdown Program last year. "I gave $52 for my jersey number for each tackle I got last year just to help raise funds for their program," said Howard. He was originally inspired to work with the All-Stars because of his experiences in after-school programs as a kid. Howard also wanted to support an organization that had the same goals as his foundation. "I wanted to get involved in something that both worked with enhancement of athletics and education and making them go hand in hand," explained Howard. "That's what my foundation is all about--enhancing academics and how they go hand in hand. And they do that. And it was a great marriage."
**Raiders Hall of Fame CB Willie Brown addresses the After School All-Stars. *Photo by Tony Gonzales. *
The Raiders linebacker invited the students of the Bay Area After-School All-Stars to Alameda as a way to honor their hard work and dedication to both academics and athletics. As part of the special field trip, the students had the opportunity to listen to Hall-of-Famer, Raiders Legend, and member of the Raiders coaching staff, Willie Brown. Coach Brown told the students how happy he was to see the kids involved in after-school programs. He also explained the importance of reading and how everything in life revolves around that skill, including professional football. He hoped to inspire the students to focus as much, if not more, on academics than athletics.
LB Thomas Howard listens to a question from an After School All-Star. Photo By Tony Gonzales.
After Brown fielded some questions from the 6th through 8th graders, Coach Roll joined the group to discuss healthy nutrition. The kids helped Coach Roll determine which foods provide the necessary energy to be a good student as well as a top athlete.
Raiders LB Thomas Howard and the After School All-Stars pose for a photo outside of the team's Alameda facility. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Following the discussions, the students lined up for a tour of the facility. With Howard leading the way, the All-Stars walked through the workout room, locker room, and practice fields. The kids were excited to see where their role models, particularly Howard, spent their days preparing for games. Howard was excited to be able to offer the After-School All-Stars a new experience. "I wanted to do something different," said Howard. "I wanted to honor the kids. I wanted to bring them out because this is something special. I remember when I was in middle school I would have loved to have visited any NFL or any professional facility, locker room, the field, the basketball court, whatever it may be."
LB Thomas Howard afforded the kids an opportunity to work out on the Raiders practice field. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Senior Director of Operations and Compliance of the After-School All-Stars, Terri Woolfolk, was thrilled to be able to bring some of the students to Alameda and knew how much it meant to them. "They love being here today," said Woolfolk. "They love Thomas Howard. They know who Thomas Howard is. He's met all the All Stars before so they just love being here with him and it's just cool coming to the Raider facility."
Howard and Woolfolk are working together to expand the Bay Area After-School All-Stars to locations in the East Bay. The program, originally in San Jose only, has spread to Campbell, Alum Rock, and their first East Bay location, Newark. "I'm trying to pioneer to raise funds and build awareness," explained Howard. "I want to get this program moved all the way up to Oakland, San Francisco, and more in the Bay Area. It's a long journey ahead of us."
The Bay Area After-School All-Stars, with the help of Howard and his foundation, are impacting children through the encouragement of academics and athletics. Howard invited the students to Alameda to thank them for their hard work. "It's almost me saying continue to thrive, continue to take your education important, continue to take athletics important, and just keep up the good work," Howard explained. "It's like a high-five to all the kids." By continuing to support the After-School All-Stars, Howard hopes to help expand the program to be able to assist more students in making the right choices and thriving throughout school.