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Dynamics beyond the sidelines

More Than a Game
Monday, March 8, 2004
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Port of call: Pirate greats back for good works

Kevin Monroe & Troy Smith at it again for
Future Inc., and the Children of Greenville



When: March 27, 2004, 5:30 PM
Where: Rose High School Gymnasium
Admission: Free (Donations welcomed)

Sponsors Needed:

Kevin and Troy would appreciate your support for Future Inc., and the children of Greenville. Sponsorships are still needed for portions of the 2nd Annual Gridiron Classic.

Since this event is free to the public, sponsorships are critical. The following support levels are still available:

Team Sponsor: $500
Halftime Sponsor: $250
Three Point Contest: negotiable
Slam Dunk Contest: negotiable

Donations of refreshments and gifts for giveaway are also being sought.

To get involved, please call Kevin Monroe at 252-353-5144 or e-mail him at; or call Troy Smith at 252-439-0151 or e-mail him at

If a Pirate football player learns anything during his time at East Carolina, it is that no obstacle is too big and the word quit simply does not exist. For former standouts Kevin Monroe (DB 1995-99) and Troy Smith (WR 1995-98), a dream greater than any they had for football continues to burn.

The two former Rose High teammates and close friends are looking to create a lasting organization aimed at helping children growing up in the toughest areas in Greenville understand that there is a live out there to be had if they can just see past the obstacles that many of them encounter on a daily basis.

A year ago, Monroe and Smith started an organization called Future Inc., which – if all goes right – will become a full-fledged non-profit organization late this year or early next. The two ex-ballplayers drew on what they knew best to get the ball rolling, football. More precisely, football players. Lots of them from ECU.

To raise some seed money for the organization, the duo put on the first Gridiron Classic, a charity basketball game featuring former ECU standout football players, many of whom played professionally in the NFL, the CFL, or in Europe. This year, the event is now truly an annual endeavor.

“(Future Inc.) started off with an idea,” Monroe explained. “Going through the south and west Greenville areas, you see kids – and they are getting younger and younger every day – on the street corners. (Seeing kids with nothing to do) really affected (me and Troy). We wanted to find something for these young kids to do while it could still make a difference in their lives.

“So we started by taking kids to ballgames or out to get some pizza. Troy coached a Pop Warner team and a basketball team. Most of these kids are interested in sports and it was something that (Troy and I) know, but we wanted to also explore their interests in other things and outside the neighborhood. We wanted to take it further.

“Troy and his wife, Lily, give so much of their time working with these children and organize and run after school programs. Troy’s job is to help disadvantaged and troubled children within the school system and it just carries over for him. It’s 24 hours a day. I am trying to help out on the business side.”

The two created Future Inc., and are daring to dream BIG. They have a goal to gain full non-profit status this year and they are eying the day when they can open a full-service after school program complete with a facility somewhere in Greenville. They hope to be able to hire full-time tutors and staff for the organization, to make it like a special “Boys and Girls Club.”

“To gain 501-P3 status takes some time,” Monroe explained. “We have submitted all of our paperwork to the government and now we are waiting for it to work its way through the proper channels. We have put together a tentative board of 10 individuals to become the board of directors, but it not formal yet. We do have a plan in place so that when the paperwork is approved, we will be ready.”

Last year’s Gridiron Classic was critical for Future Inc., as it proved to be a worthwhile fund-raiser not only in gaining seed money for the organization, but also in terms of getting the name out and connecting to the very community they wish to serve.

“Last year, the Gridiron was good for the kids and it was mainly a marketing a event (for Future Inc.),” Monroe said. “We were able to put together enough money to start an account for the organization. Overall we raised about $5,000 last year and were able to put that toward the future.

“More importantly, the community was really good to us last year which is so important in terms of growing our organization. Trade Mart and Henry Hinton really stepped up big for us. I hate that I might leave someone out, but others contributed as well. Chik-fil-a and Morgan Printers and a lot of individuals gave money to the cause.”

The biggest beneficiaries, however, are the children of Greenville. Monroe and Smith and many others are delivering on a promise to open these children up to new, positive experiences.

“The parents, for one, are just happy someone is looking out for their kids,” Monroe said. “For many of them, they are working second and third-shift jobs or working two jobs or are single parents and they feel good knowing that there is someone looking out for them and their children. I was honored with an award from Rose High last year as an Alumni of the Year and I know that it was mostly due to the work we are doing with these kids who live right there around the school.”

If the expected turn out for the 2nd Annual Pirate Gridiron Classic is any indication, the two former Pirates are well on their way to establishing a lasting event that benefits not only the Pirate football community, but more importantly, many of the children of Greenville.

This year’s Gridiron Classic is slated for 5:30 p.m. on March 27, 2004 at the Rose High School Gymnasium and once again will benefit Future Incorporated, a non-profit organization started by Smith and Monroe.

The event is free this year, though donations are certainly encouraged for all who want to participate. So far, the roster of former players includes – though as of press time not all were confirmed – current NFL stars David Garrard, Leonard Henry, Rod Coleman, and Devonne Claybrooks and current CFL stars Marcus Crandell and Keith Stokes. Also expected to participate are former NFL players George Koonce, Vinson Smith, Carlester Crumpler Jr., Jerris McPhail, Mitchell Galloway and Larry Shannon, who currently is on the ECU staff.

Others who have been invited are Andrew Bayes, Forrest Foster, Pernell Griffin, Jeff Kerr, Jeff Connors, Danny Gonzalez, Jason Nichols, Scott Harley, Marcellus Harris, Antwane Yelverton, and Marvin Burke.

Last year’s first event brought home more than 55 players to participate in the game.

The event includes a meet and greet session with the former Pirates where fans can chat and grab an autograph. Then the former stars will break into teams for a basketball game. Included in the festivities will be a halftime performance by the ECU Pure Gold Dancers.

“The event is the same this year except we are going to incorporate the university more,” Monroe said. “Last year we had a cookout and this year we are going to eat over (at ECU) with the Pirate Club. Saturday we will be involved in the spring game on the sideline. We were hoping to use Minges (for the game), but it was not available.

“We are going to change it up a little bit. We have the ECU Pure Gold Dancers and there will be a lot of gift giveaways. We have the three-point shootout and the slam dunk contest again. There has been a great response (from former players and coaches) so far. It is going to be a great time again this year.”

Monroe and Smith are hoping that the Gridiron Classic endures not only for the sake of Future Inc., but also for the sake of community and Pirates from all walks of life.

“We want to make this the alumni event of the year every year,” Monroe said. “Every year, we want all former football players to mark this date down and come back to Greenville. And, we want Future to be the backbone for this.”

For more information or to sponsor a portion of the event, please call Kevin Monroe at 252-353-5144 or Troy Smith at 252-439-0151.

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

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02/23/2007 02:05:36 PM

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