Jody Victor: Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis, both senior linebackers on the Ohio State football team, spoke to a group of Columbus youth last Friday on campus at Evans Laboratory.
Freeman, who graduated in December 2007, and Laurinaitis, scheduled to complete his degree in June 2009, served as featured speakers during Ohio State's National Youth in Sports Program (NYSP) career Day.
The leading returning tacklers on the three-time defending Big Ten championship squad emphasized a disciplined approach to schoolwork and leading a proactive life of humility and respect toward others.
The National Youth in Sports Program (NYSP) was a federally funded summer program for inner-city youth. The program is designed to offer youth a daily program to learn both life skills and opportunities to exercise through various sports activities on campus.
Ohio state was a pilot program and has been one of the nationwide university operations since 1968. Major federal funding cuts have been made in each of the last four years and in 2007 all federal funding for NYSP was cut.
As a result of the federal cuts, universities across the country have discontinued NYSP programs. In just two years, the number fell from 202 in 2005 to 49 in 2007 and continues to drop.
Ohio State has taken near full financial responsibility to continue NYSP as a free program for Columbus youth in 2008 and beyond. Starting next year, the program will be renamed “LIFE Sports” at Ohio State. OSU's aim is to be the flagship program for universities across the country to continue their NYSP programs as a part of LIFE Sports.
The 2008 NYSP camp started June 9 and concludes July 3 with a morning track and field copetition at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.