Wednesday, June 08, 2011
June 3, 2011
By Amy Anderson
Many NFL players are ill-equipped to live outside the glare of the spotlight, leaving 78 percent bankrupt, unemployed or divorced within two years of retirement, according to NFL player Kern Ruettgers. But NFL Pro Bowler Aaron Kampman knows what it means not to be judged by his total number of tackles or QB sacks.
Motivated by their Christian faith, Kampman and his wife, Linde, recently traveled to El Salvador with Compassion International to visit poverty-stricken children who know nothing of the celebrity status Americans often give NFL players. The Kampmans were accompanied to El Salvador by Jaguars teammate Russell Allen and wife, Ali, and Seattle Seahawks' Craig Terrill and wife, Rachel, also motivated by their faith.
"A lot of times here in the States I am recognized as a NFL player, and many think that gives me great value," said Aaron Kampman. "While I love the game, it is through the eyes of these Compassion children that I can see a greater value and importance for my life beyond the football field and the potential we each have to help a child."
While in El Salvador, the Kampmans, Allens and Terrills visited their sponsored children, Jonathan (10), Natalie (7) and Katherine (9), respectively. Each child's eyes lit up when meeting the football pros, but not because the children were hoping for an autograph. To these children, Kampman, Allen and Terrill were simply the men who make school, health care, nutritional supplements, regular meals and spiritual support possible. While in El Salvador, the NFL players also visited Rudy, the 13-year-old sponsored child of Super Bowl Champ Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers, who was unable to make the trip.
"Rudy didn't care about the T-shirts and sports paraphernalia we brought him—which was surprising for someone who has probably never received his own brand-new shirt," said Allen. "The entire time we spent with him, he gripped the photo of Jordy and asked repeatedly, 'you really know my sponsor?'"
In the sports world where many times the "bad press" is all that makes the headlines, these three players refuse to accept that they are solely defined by their positions as NFL players. Kampman plans to continue to partner with Compassion International and encourage other players to take an interest in the lives of the children who desperately need their help.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
By Drew Laing
June 2, 2011
Growing up in Minnesota, Matt Spaeth was a long time target of the Golden Gophers coming out of high school.
When Spaeth arrived on campus in 2003, he took advantage of his playing time and was named to the Rivals.com Freshman All-American Team.
Spaeth went on to start the next three years for Minnesota at tight end.
In 2005, Spaeth was named to the All-Big Ten First Team after a season where he caught 26 receptions and totaled more than 300 yards and four touchdowns.
His senior season was his most productive year. Spaeth, who would later be a First-team All-American, attained a career high in both receptions (47) and receiving yards (564).
Spaeth led his team to the Insight Bowl in 2006 and was then drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Friday, June 03, 2011
Pittsburgh Steeler tight-end Matt Spaeth, a graduate of St. Michael-Albertville High School and one of the community’s brightest stars, will host his third annual charity golf tournament later this month.
By Mike Schoemer
June 2, 2011
Sundays, most St. Michael residents know one of their own is ready to lace up the cleats, and go to work on football's biggest stage.
Right now, however, Matt Spaeth is a man “without a job.”
“It’s kind of crazy to think about [the National Football League lockout]. You hope that things change soon, or it’s going to be a tough deal for a lot of guys. But, yeah, I’m not really working,” he said Wednesday from the Caribou Coffee shop in Albertville.
That’s not to say Spaeth, a standout tight end with the Minnesota Gophers, a member of the Super Bowl XLIII Champion Pittsburgh Steelers (last year’s AFC Champions), and a St. Michael-Albertville grad, isn’t busy.
Yesterday, he had meetings with a possible charitable organization that wants his time. This spring, he’s had workouts with friend and fellow NFL standout Eric Decker (they’re getting an apartment now in St. Louis Park). Soon, he’ll join Larry Fitzgerald and other NFL greats at a self-imposed mini-camp at the University of Minnesota.
Meanwhile, he’s rehabbing a sore knee (an inflamed patellar tendon) and organizing his third annual Matt Spaeth Charity Golf Tournament, set for June 24 at St. Michael’s Fox Hollow Golf Course.
“I kind of started it knowing that I wanted to give back to the community in some way, and this was a good way to do it. The golf tournaments are a pretty fun way to raise money,” Spaeth said. “I guess, really, I didn’t know what I was getting in to. It’s a lot of work on the organization end. So that first year, it was pretty interesting. But we were able to raise some money for the football program.”
The first-ever tournament brought a huge financial gift to STMA Youth Football and the high school program, which was Spaeth’s original intention. But, as the second tournament rolled around, he wanted to spread the wealth.
“I actually felt a little guilty giving it all to football, even though I wanted to help them first because really, it was youth football that got me to where I am now. But my parents and I were at church one weekend, and they were talking about the Hanover Food Shelf, and I thought that would be another great charity to get involved,” Spaeth said.
Another friend and former coach, Keith Cornell, thought of a third organization to benefit from the tournament. The St. Michael-Albertville High School Student Fund, which aids financially disadvantaged families and students, was a natural choice.
“It’s a fund that receives some government money, but like everything else, a lot of that funding had been cut,” Spaeth said. “Keith came to me with the idea and it seemed like a good fit.”
The student fund helps students pay for everything from gym shoes to ACT fees and college application costs.
Friends who are involved with the tournament know how important the event is to Spaeth, and how hard he works to make it a success.
“He’s really taken in on as a responsibility each year, and it’s a fun way for him to give back,” said longtime friend Dan Zachman. “One thing you realize about Matt is that he’s just a genuine guy. None of the success has changed him at all. He comes back to St. Michael and he’s the same. He doesn’t let it go to his head.”
For more information on the tournament, or to get involved, check out the website here, or visit Fox Hollow’s website. If you’d like to give to Spaeth’s charities, you can do so here, without even swinging a club.
If you don’t play, don’t worry. Big No. 89 won’t be golfing, either.
“I don’t golf, so I’ll be out there meeting with people and thanking them for coming out,” Spaeth said. “That’s kind of my job for the day.”