One of the luxuries of being a ‘fan site’ is that there is no obligation to cover ‘breaking news’. The mainstream media seems to focus on the personal lives of players only when they get themselves into some kind of trouble. It seems odd that a player’s saggy pants causing a ‘run-in’ with mall cops makes national headlines, and we always hear about it when a player gets accused of any impropriety (whether or not the allegations have any basis in reality), but we so rarely hear about the vast majority of players who are making an effort to use their football stardom to do positive things. SportDFW believes that it is important to recognise the athletes in Dallas who are making an effort to do positive things in the world.
Everyone knows that Miles Austin is the #1 WR for the Dallas Cowboys, that he was undrafted out of Monmouth College, and that he waited three years before getting a chance to start in the NFL. Most of you also know that Miles had his break-out game against the K.C. Chiefs on October 11, 2009, and many of you probably even know the exact number of yards he had on that record setting day (250). But, how many of you know about the Austin Family Foundation?
Most of us at SportDFW didn’t know anything about the Austin Family Foundation before a few weeks ago either, so we sent our intrepid writers to find out.
SportDFW was lucky enough to interview Jennifer Austin, who is Miles’ sister, and the Executive Director of the Austin Family Foundation. Jennifer is currently training for the Olympics, so we are very grateful that she took time out of her busy regimen to talk with us. Jennifer was kind enough to tell us about the Foundation, and, yes, we talked about football and the Dallas Cowboys too.
Jennifer Austin: Miles believed the foundation would be a great way for our entire family to be involved in giving back to youth. Many families, in communities like Garfield, NJ, depend on the supports and resources of community organizations for direction and balance. Our family lived in Garfield, NJ for about 17 years. It’s a working class town, with a diverse population. Miles and I were very connected to the community through youth based organizations, so our family knows the importance of these vital community resources.
SportDFW: I know that the mission of the Foundation is to assist the youth in low income areas. Can you tell us about some of the specific things that you do?
Jennifer Austin: For the time being we are only focusing on fundraising efforts, but Miles has made some appearances on behalf of a few organizations and causes.
SportDFW: Can you tell us about the Golf Tournament you are having the summer?
Jennifer Austin: On June 25, 2012 we will be holding the 2nd Austin Family Foundation Golf Outing in Wayne, NJ. Sponsorships and foursomes are still available. We also have cocktail hour/dinner tickets for those of you that do not golf. I know your readers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area may be a bit upset about the distance, but they’re more than welcome to join us! Or if they can not attend we are looking for businesses to donate items for our raffle or gift bag!
SportDFW: You mentioned earlier that you were particularly excited because the Golf event was going to allow the Austin Family to give something back to two organizations that had an impact on your lives when you growing up. Could you tell us about the two organizations and explain how they affected your lives as children?
Jennifer Austin: When we moved to Garfield, NJ in 1992, Miles and I were both elementary school students. We became involved in the Boys and Girls Club’s after school and summer programs shortly after moving in to town. Prior to living in Garfield we hadn’t participated in organized sports or attended an after school program, so being apart of these programs was a big deal for us. When we entered high school and even during college we worked as summer counselors. The Garfield Boys and Girls Club was a huge part of our lives so anything we can do to help other kids who are in the same position we were in makes us grateful.
The second program that will receive proceeds from our outing is called LMTI (Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute). It’s a state wide drug and alcohol prevention and peer leadership program. Both Miles and I were picked to be a part of this program. We made a commitment to remain drug and alcohol free during high school. We attended their summer camp to gain leadership skills. There is a saying at camp, “Let me be me, let you be you.” This message of acceptance is one of the core components of this program. I believe Miles and I are better people today because of it.
SportDFW: Seeing as how this is a golf tournament, who is the best golfer in the family?
Jennifer Austin: Well, it’s definitely not me! I would have to say either my brother or father. If my mom played more often she would be the winner hands down! She is very competitive.
SportDFW: Are there going to be any special guests at the Golf Event, or is that still a secret?
Jennifer Austin: We don’t know the final roster of players yet, but last year the following players attended: Tashard Choice, DeMarcus Ware, Matt McBriar, Chris Canty, Kevin Ogletree, Luis Castillo, Anthony Fasano, Steve Bowen, and Brandon Lloyd. We’re hoping to have even more players this year.
SportDFW: For our readers who don’t live anywhere near New Jersey, how can they get involved if they want to help out?
Jennifer Austin: We would love if all of your readers could attend! But if that isn’t possible following us on twitter @austinfamilyfdn or liking our Facebook page would make us just as happy! They can also check out our website, at www.austinfamilyfoundation.org Also any donations of products for our golfer gift bags or items/services for our raffle or silent auction would be a great help!
In the future, we hope to add a fundraiser in the Dallas area.
SportDFW: What is the best part of being involved with the Austin Family Foundation?
Jennifer Austin: What’s great about what our family is doing is that we never imagined being in a position where we could raise money for two organizations that are important to us! It’s our way of saying thank you.
SportDFW: I noticed on one of your twitter links that you mentioned that you were in training, what are you training for?
Jennifer Austin: I’m actually training for the Olympics. I throw the javelin. I was a granted a leave of absence from my job as school social worker. I’ve been living and training in Arizona since October. I figured I’m getting older and this would be the perfect time in my life to fulfil one of my dreams, which is being an Olympian. I had my first meet on March 25th at ASU and opened up with a personal best throw of 179 ft. I’m going to be working toward hitting the Olympic “A” or “B” standards which are around 193 ft and 203 ft respectively.
SportDFW: Were sports always a part of your life growing in the Austin house?
Jennifer Austin: Athletics have been a huge part of our lives. Both of my parents played college basketball. My mother also played softball. They’ve always encouraged us to be the best we can be on and off the field. Our parents attended all of our games throughout high school and college. They’re still cheering us both on!
SportDFW: Do you consider yourself an NFL football fan, a Dallas Cowboys fan, a Miles Austin fan, or some combination of the three?
Jennifer Austin: My dad was a huge Raiders fan so we tended to watch Oakland games growing up. Since Miles became a Cowboy we have all converted to Dallas fans! Believe it or not most times when I watch Miles play I have a split second moment of disbelief. I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I am so unbelievably proud of him!
SportDFW: When did you first start to think that Miles had a realistic shot of making it to the NFL?
Jennifer Austin: Coming from a Div. 1AA program it was hard to know whether NFL teams were going to be interested in pursuing him. Our family believed he had what it takes to play on the next level, but we didn’t know if he would receive an opportunity. We’re so happy Dallas gave him a chance.
SportDFW: Have you seen the new stadium in Dallas? What did you think of it?
Jennifer Austin: The new stadium is amazing! I believe Mr. Jones has set the bar very high for future stadiums. The building itself is architecturally stunning. Then you go inside and are greeted by 160 ft wide 72 ft tall HD jumbo screen. It’s going to be difficult for any stadium to compete with our home turf.
SportDFW: What was it like for the Austin Family when Miles had his historical record setting day against the Chiefs?
Jennifer Austin: That day will always be special for our family. It was a huge opportunity for Miles that he capitalized on. My parents and I were watching the game in our small 2nd floor apartment. We were experiencing so many different emotions. Anxiety. Excitement. Disbelief. Joy. Unfortunately, the entire neighborhood also experienced all of our emotions, because we were that loud. We received text messages, phone calls, and emails, during and after the game. It seemed everyone close to our family wanted to experience that moment in time with us!
SportDFW: One of the things that NFL fans love about your brother Miles is that he seems like a hard working regular guy. Is that something that you both learned from your parents?
Jennifer Austin: Many people that meet Miles are shocked by how down to earth he is. Our parents raised us to be grateful, humble and respectful. Miles’ success has not altered the basic principles he grew up with. The way he has handled his initial stardom and subsequent fame makes me very proud as his big sister.