This summer, Boys Town North Florida had a truly remarkable opportunity to partner with the distinguished athletes of Florida State University (FSU). This partnership forged an inspiring connection between our resilient youth and the spirited FSU Seminole champions.
Our youth were privileged to spend time with several of the Seminole's teams including both the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the football team. The kids were first introduced to the teams at a summer recreation kick-off party, where they had an opportunity of a lifetime, when they were given the chance to play basketball with the skilled athletes of the FSU Men's Basketball Team. Beyond just the game, our kids and the players chatted about going to college, figuring out life paths, and the importance of staying focused. These athletes became mentors, sparking hope and inspiration in the hearts of the youth they connected with at the event.
Shortly after the visit with the men's basketball team, it was the women's basketball team's turn to make a memorable visit to our campus. They spent time with the youth, engaging in their favorite games and emphasizing the team's commitment to community service. During their interactions, the kids discovered shared birthplaces with some of the team members and connected over common interests such as art, music, games and sports.
As the summer progressed, the youth at Boys Town were thrilled to hear the players on the FSU Seminole's Football Team also wanted to spend time with them. Over the course of a few weeks, each player on the team came out to engage with the youth in various activities and conversations. From designing Nike shoes to sharing lunch and participating in art sessions at ART Town, the football players connected with the kids on a personal level. Conversations delved into topics including resilience, kindness and the pursuit of excellence. The mutual understanding and shared interests created a unique bond that resonated throughout the summer.
As summer's end approached, the team wanted to think of a unique way to send the youth back to school. The coaches and players invited Boys Town to watch a practice as one of their final joint activities. Everyone was thrilled to be able to go to FSU and watch the players, in their own environment, engage in pre-season practice to prepare for an awesome college football season. The kids and staff were so excited to have a chance to go inside of the Seminole's Indoor Practice Facility and watch the team practice and run drills with Coach Mike Norvell.
At the conclusion of the practice, each player greeted the youth to thank them for coming and offered words of encouragement and well-wishes for a good school year. After the players had the chance to speak with the youth, Coach Norvell shared his appreciation for the team and Boys Town's partnership and stressed the power of positivity to the Boys Town youth, reinforcing the importance of showing up, being kind, and striving to be the best version of yourself every day. His resonating words reminded the youth that their aspirations are within reach. All they need to do is try.
Our youth and staff that had the opportunity to work with the FSU Athletic teams were impressed by their positivity and were grateful for the time they were able to spend together. Many youths made statements surrounding these encounters, expressing how much of a lasting impact these athletes had on them and how inspired they felt to attend college and pursue college athletics in the future.
Through sports, conversations and moments of inspiration, the youth were shown a path forward and reminded that with dedication and effort, they can achieve and succeed.