BY JEFF FALK
REXMONT – Given his financial position, it would be easy for Jared Odrick to throw a few thousand dollars at a couple of inspirational causes. So why does he host the Jared Odrick Golf Classic?
Because he’s a people person, he’s hands-on, he’s down-to-earth, his understanding of the importance of money hasn’t wavered, he maintains a philanthropic heart, he’s family-oriented, he wants to make a difference and he cares about his community. The gifts that Odrick possesses are more valuable than money.
On Saturday afternoon at Iron Valley Golf Course, during its third installment, the Jared Odrick Golf Classic demonstrated that it has evolved to a point that it can even overcome the game of golf’s biggest detractor – rain. Amid heavy rains outside, the event was moved indoors to Iron Valley’s Miner’s Club restaurant.
There was still great food, a sports memorabilia auction, raffles, fellowship, autograph signings, picture taking and even photo bombing. Just not golf in unplayable conditions.
“This is only my second visit to Lebanon this year,” said Odrick, Jacksonville’s newest Jaguar, Penn State’s former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the best football player Lebanon High School has ever produced. “A lot of it is my obligation to football, and empowering myself and the people around me. One of the things I’ve learned from my heroes is leading by example. The best thing I can do for a community is do things I believe in and enjoy, and do that with conviction. Putting energy into the things I believe in. By doing that, I think I’m doing the best service I can.
“You want to be able to communicate with the people here,” continued Odrick. “I want to make things happen here. But the key is communication. You need something in place before you can come in and be a catalyst and make things real. You want to make sure your efforts aren’t being thrown into an empty cause.”
Proceeds from the event went to two great causes, Autism Speaks and Operation Give Back. Operation Give Back supports military personnel, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, first-responders and their families.
“It’s doing the best with what we got,” said Odrick. “Today was rain. Today was an example of people coming together for a common cause. It’s a display of support.
“I’m just glad everybody got something out of it,” Odrick added. “Today illuminated the core group of people who have supported me. Going back to my days at Lebanon High School, there’s a lot of people who have supported me for a long time. When you have an event predicated on weather, you’re at its mercy. You’re just glad you can take some positive things from it.”
“We made the call to move it inside yesterday (Friday),” said Tony Giovino, the event’s organizer and Odrick’s former line coach at Lebanon High. “Iron Valley was very congenial. We discussed it and talked about some options. We just reversed the course of things. We didn’t really lose anything besides the tournament golf.
“We raised right around $20,000 each year,” Giovino continued. “We donate that to a number of different charities. But we won’t reach that figure this year, because of what happened, and we didn’t get a full field.”
In March, Odrick became one of the NFL’s highest paid defensive tackles when he signed a five-year, $42.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After being selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Odrick played five seasons for the Miami Dolphins.
“I feel tons of positivity,” said Odrick of his new start. “It’s a breath of fresh air. It started with Coach (Gus) Bradley and how he runs the show. I like how internally motivating he’s asking us to be. I’ve totally bought into that. He tells us, ‘Enjoy your job. It is your job, but it’s also a game.'”
“Everybody knows what happened in Miami,” said Giovino. “Jacksonville grabbed him. They know what they’re getting. Jared’s goal is to make the Pro Bowl. He wasn’t in the right scheme in Miami to do that. He’s in the right scheme now. So watch out.”
At age 27, the 6-5, 304-pound Odrick is approaching the midway point of his professional football career. There are still many things within the game he would like to accomplish – this year, over the next five seasons – before he turns his attentions to aspirations beyond football.
“I set personal goals every year,” said Odrick. “One of my goals is to make them more real. Write them down, go over them and read them. By making things more real, you’re developing your vision. I could always see that I was going to do something, like playing a professional sport.
“I want to feel like I’m a contributing factor,” Odrick continued. “A game-changer. I want people to single me out on film. I want to be the guy who has to be blocked. I want to be the player who has to be double-teamed. I want to make a Pro Bowl. As long as I continue to find success, and am able to achieve personal goals and contribute my talents to the team, it will make me happy.”
And what allows Odrick to reach for the stars is the fact that he’s grounded, by his roots in Lebanon.
“Where this came from was waiting for an avenue to give back to the community,” said Odrick of his involvement in the Jared Odrick Golf Classic. “It’s the same people, but it’s evolved. We’ve grown in numbers. I want to foster the same type of identity of reaching out to people. Hopefully we’re building a brand people can attach to.”
“We’ve learned every year,” said Giovino. “We added some different things this year. We know what needs to be added next year. When Jared was a senior at Penn State, he asked me what he can do to keep his name active in the area. That’s where a lot of this came from.”
Playing himself, Odrick had a cameo appearance in a recent episode of the Home Box Office series ‘Ballers’. The series stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a former football player who provides financial advice to current and former players.
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