SOTT Interview: The Wade Smith Foundation Grows and Gives
Patrick D. Starr
Walking into a room, you would never know the unassuming 6'4" Wade Smith is a Pro Bowl-caliber professional football player. But the modest and reserved Smith offers a bright, welcoming smile and shakes hands with those in attendance at an autograph signing at Buffalo Wild Wings to benefit his charity, The Wade Smith Foundation. He often looks downward but always catches your eye when speaking. He is an honest and humble-appearing man. The Houston Texans left guard has been a revelation on the field the past three years, as well as in the charitable sense more recently. This weekend, the Wade Smith Foundation hosted Reading with the Pros on Friday, 2/15/2013 at Stella Link Library. On Saturday, 2/16/2013 he held the autograph signing, and later that same day, hosted a day party and silent auction at at Haven restaurant.
Wade's charity is notable in that it was established just last year with its mission, "to facilitate the growth of today's youth by providing them with the necessary tools to improve their overall development as young adults." Who can't get behind that goal? We all have a stake in this. And Wade speaks softly but carries a big stick. You can see how determined he is to make a difference, to use his celebrity to give back and his obvious motivation to not only say, but do. Since its founding, this has been the fifth "Reading with the Pros" Wade has conducted since its kickoff in June 2012. He has held a number of other events as well. He has been able to balance a Pro Bowl year and his burgeoning new foundation. It's amazing he has been so successful at each.
You've been in the league for 10 years and were selected to go to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2012. What was that like for you and what did it mean to share it with so many of your teammates?
It was a great experience. Basically, when you've been playing for 10 years and the different teams I have been on, to finally get that recognition from your peers, from the coaches, from fans, it's a great feeling, it's a tribute to all the hard work and effort you put in, to get to that point. And as far as all my teammates being there, it was kinda surreal. It was, you know, you get in the huddle and just like normal: Chris is to my left, Duane is to my right, looking at Schaub call the play, Arian's in the huddle, Dre is in the huddle ... So it was really cool. I'm not sure how many times people that have went over there, who've experienced so many of their teammates being there. We had seven guys on offense, and the fact that we were down there with our families and we got to experience the lagoon, the luau and things of that nature was great.
You've done this ten years, what do you typically do in the offseason to stay in shape and ready to go come training camp?
You kind of decelerate in as much as possible, as far as lifting heavy and things of that nature until it gets closer to when the season starts because with the grind of the season, you have to give your body some time to rest and get ready to go through another year. But, just lifting, sometimes you play a little basketball, just do some fun things like that to stay in shape. As far as staying in shape, that's pretty much what we do.
When do you come back to start working with the team?
Actually I still live here in Houston, so I go up to Reliant to work out whenever I want to work out. But as far as the team, I think we start this year on April 15th and that's changed because before we had the new CBA agreement, it used to be earlier, like March, end of March.
Are you a big fan of the draft, any particular players you are hoping land with the Texans?
It's like once you get to a certain, I guess, age, you don't really know. There's certain guys you know about in general and there's only a few certain players I actually know about like Clowney, but he's not going to be able to come out. So many people come throughout the ranks you just never know... I mean, think about it: two years ago, we drafted J.J. Watt and everybody was kinda like, "Well, who is J.J. Watt?" And you say that now and he's the Defensive Player of the Year, so I think our front office does a good job drafting the best players.
I would also like to ask a little bit about your foundation, the Wade Smith Foundation. Can you tell me how you started, why you decided to work to help children and what your goal is with the foundation?
I think the main thing for me, it was just the opportunity to thank the people that helped me get here, people throughout my life that without them and their influence and maybe the help that they gave me throughout elementary school, junior high and high school, and college, that I wouldn't be where I am today. And so, the main thing is, this is my way of thanking them for what they did for me, by helping others. And definitely with kids, if you can get kids reading at an early age, get kids positive about just everything in life, then some of the hardships they go through, some of the situations that go on around them, if you give them encouragement, things of that nature, it will help us all well into the future. So that's my goal, just to touch kids' lives. You touch one kid, that's going to make a difference for a multitude of people.