Rennie Curran was a football star at Brookwood High School. But when the linebacker, who went on to great success at the University of Georgia and then to the pros, thought about how he wanted to give back to his home school and county, it didn't involve a ball or a field.
He wanted to help kids like he had been helped. So a mentoring workshop made perfect sense.
On Saturday, Curran will realize his dream with a career summit for youth called "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Open to male students grades 6 through 12, the event will be held at Brookwood from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Participants won't be wearing shoulder pads -- they are asked to "dress for success" in either suit and tie or business casual.
"I wanted to get away from doing the same old football camp," said Curran, a linebacker who has signed to play this year in the Canadian Football League. "I realize that not everyone is going to be a pro athlete but that we all need help in going to the next level.
"There were plenty of guys older than me (when I was coming up) who gave me knowledge and help. There were a lot of times where I could have gone the wrong way if I didn't have people looking out for me and helping me. That (type of role model) is what I want to be to these younger kids."
Curran's agent will participate at the summit and students will also learn about careers in medicine, the legal field, law enforcement, business, technology and entrepreneurship. At the end of the workshop, there will be chances to learn about colleges and how to get involved with community organizations.
"We'll be teaching them about different careers and the power of networking. Things that will help them in life and maybe things they don't necessarily learn in school," Curran said.
Curran helped set the agenda for Saturday's workshop along with James Rayford of Gwinnett County Public Schools. He met Rayford, director of academic support, during a similar summit last year in DeKalb and thought it would be a great thing for Gwinnett. With Rayford's help, Curran planned Saturday's event.
While Curran has broad interests, football is still his top pursuit. And he hopes a stint in the CFL -- he has signed a one-year contract with the Edmonton Eskimoes, will help him get back to the NFL, where he previously played for the Tennessee Titans.
Regardless of the league he plays in, he knows he's lucky to be a professional athlete and lucky to have had so many people mentor him.
"I'm excited," Curran said of playing in the CFL for the first time. "Any opportunity to get paid to do what I love is a blessing.
"I had a lot of people mentor me, and ultimately it helped me get to where I'm at."
On Saturday, Curran hopes to repay that with some mentoring of his own.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.