Most NFL players would struggle to call the end of their football careers at the ripe ol' age of 26 years old a blessing. But most athletes struggle to view sports through the lens of Myron Rolle.
"I'm leaving the game with my hands fully healthy and functional, with no concussions so maybe I can be a great doctor for a long time," Rolle said. "So that's a blessing."
Remember him? Myron Rolle, the former Florida State defensive back who attracted national attention when he postponed the NFL for a year to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar back in 2009. His professional sports career is over, but his mission to change the world is just beginning.
Rolle, along with the support of the Department of Children and Families and Wells Fargo, is hosting a two-day academic workshop called Rhodes to Success for Central Florida foster care children ages 14-17, concluding today, at the Florida State College of Medicine Orlando campus. He's using his background juggling high level academics and athletics to teach a pre-selected group of 50 teen-agers organizational skills, time management, study habits and health advocacy.
That alone would be impressive. But even more profound is how Rolle's been making philanthropy a strong commitment for years through his Myron L. Rolle foundation. Each summer for the past four years, Rolle hosts a week-long wellness and leadership academy for foster care children at Camp Blanding in Starke.
So it wasn't a surprise when Rolle said the idea for his academic workshop came when he was looking up academic statistics for foster care children in Central Florida in his spare time. A staggering average of 32 to 37 percent of Central Florida foster kids have graduated from high school for the past five years according to Community Based Care of Central Florida.
"I read about these shortcomings and I got angered. I really did," Rolle said. "Someone, somewhere is failing these kids."
Honestly, the world has enough athletes showing kids how to play sports and eat right. It'd be nice if communities had more Myron Rolles teaching kids how to prepare for life. The truth is, your child has a better chance of becoming a brain surgeon than a professional athlete.
And by some rare twist of fate, Rolle could end up doing both. He still plans to pursue a future career in neurosurgery and is currently waiting for acceptance letters from medical schools.
"I can combine my former sporting life to that discipline where there's so many concussions going on in football, hockey or other contact sports. I thought maybe I can lend my expertise," he said. "I love sports, obviously, so if I could be a doctor and help out in sports in that kind of way, that would be pretty neat."
No matter what the career journey has in store for Rolle, he knows it will always include giving back to others. He wants to make the academic workshop in Orlando an annual event to help improve the academic performances for foster care children.
"As a Christian and someone who is trying to be a forward thinker in philanthropy, you have to have a keen eye and be astute to those who need it most," Rolle said. "Seeing the alarming disparities in foster and non foster kids' performance in school, that just mobilized me and got me going saying we've got to do something and we've got to do something right now."
Log onto myflfamilies.com and click on the link to the Myron L. Rolle foundation if you are interested in volunteering, donating or applying for the Rhodes to Success program.