REXMONT – To the untrained observer, it looked like a bunch of really big, strong guys hitting golf balls short distances. But yesterday was much more than that.
It was about friends, family, football, golf, Lebanon and two great causes.
By all accounts, the second annual Jared Odrick Golf Classic, conducted on Saturday afternoon under ideal conditions at Iron Valley Golf Course, was even bigger, better and more successful than the original. Not only did Odrick and golf serve as the catalysts for fellowship, the event raised thousands of dollars for Operation Give-Back, which helps military personnel, law enforcement agents, firemen and first responders, and Autism Speaks.
The Jared Odrick Golf Classic is named for the past Penn State Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the current Miami Dolphin defensive end and the forever Lebanon native. Attended by more than 30 golfing foursomes, the event included a golf outing, lunch, a cuban food dinner, a silent auction and raffles.
Reportedly, a good time was had by all.
“It was a great turnout,” said Odrick. “It was awesome to see how many people came out. It ran a lot smoother than last year. There were more people involved.”
“You want to maximize whatever you’re doing,” said Tony Giovino, the event’s organizer and Odrick’s former assistant coach at Lebanon High. “I can’t tell how much money we made because we don’t know our expenses. Last year we raised $17,000 and this year we were hoping to raise between $25,000 and $30,000.”
Also attending were a dozen present and former Odrick teammates and colleagues, including Randy Starks, Derrick Shelby, Olivier Vernon, Chad Alecxih, A. Q. Shipley, Mike Mauti, Jordan Hill, Ollie Ogbu, Mike Mauti, Josh Gaines and Eric Latimore, among others.
“It’s easy to get guys to come out and horse around for a good cause,” said Odrick. “It’s hard to match up schedules. It shows the type of guys they are. To buy flights to come up here and take the time and effort to fly all the way from Miami to Pennsylvania — that was their biggest donation.”
“I’ve attended other guys’ fundraisers,” added Odrick. “You try to make as many as you can. But you don’t want to make it a tit-for-tat thing.”
“The difference on our end was we had a corporate sponsor this year,” said Giovino. “And the fact Jared brought additional players really enhanced it.”
“There’s a lot of times you wish you could do something yourself — but sometimes you feel helpless — you’re not,” said Odrick. “I didn’t want to have that feeling, so why not add Autism Speaks as one of the benefactors. It’s obviously a great movement and a great cause.”
The Jared Odrick Golf Classic is Odrick’s initial step towards his stated desire of giving back to the Lebanon community.Right now, those efforts are hindered by a hectic on- and off-the-field schedule, the thousands of geographic miles between Miami and Lebanon and an uncertaintity about the most efficient ways to utilize his resources.
“My name has been a part of it for the last two years,” said Odrick. “I enjoy it because I wanted to do anything I can to lend a hand in the local community. It was just a way to meet people with other ideas. I think it’s important to give back to the local community.
“Yeah, I expect a third one,” added Odrick. “It’s what we’re hoping for.”
“Thank God for this weather,” said Giovino. “They (Iron Valley management) want to see if it’s a good marriage between us and them. Our original goal was to move it around to the different courses in the county. We were satisfied last year (at Royal Oaks), and we were happy this year.”
Odrick, who just completed spring Organized Team Activities in Miami, is at a critical point of his four-year NFL career. He is entering the final season of a five-year $13 million dollar contract he signed with the Dolphins, after being selected with the 28th overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft.
He will spend the next month working with a personal trainer in Toronto. The Dolphins open training camp in preparation for the 2014 season on July 24.
“Things look good getting ready for the season,” added Odrick. “A lot of guys are coming into veteran roles, and I think I’m one of those guys.”