Nov. 21, 2013
This is Dedication. This is the Future. This is Auburn.
By Charles Goldberg
"Two little boys kept asking, 'Where's Nosa? Where's Nosa?'" she remembered. "He was running late because he was having his knee checked out. He left his doctor's appointment and came in. He never disappointed the kids."
Auburn defensive lineman Nosa Eguae was a star working with the Pine Hills students at the Boys and Girls Club last year, and Daniels says he will be again this year. She says his desire to read to the grammar-school-age kids comes from the heart.
"He had the sweetest spirit," Daniels said. "He read to the kids and then he let them read. He'd sit down on the floor with them. He was fabulous the whole school year."
Eguae said he was happy to use his position as a football player to influence others.
"I've been blessed with an awesome platform and I'm going to use it to reach out, whether it's to one person or 50 or 100," Eguae said. "That's something that I'm passionate about and something that is big to me. I was raised in a family that it was always about others. It wasn't about self."
The Pine Hills Literacy Project was founded by Daniels and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. They grew up in Auburn, and decided to give back through a literacy project that has enlisted the services of numerous Auburn athletes, and as well as students majoring in early childhood education, psychology and social work.
Eguae's desire to help others didn't come by accident. He learned it from his family, and he learned it in school
"I've always been a part of some awesome schools and awesome programs that could influence," he said. "Anytime I saw a college athlete or a pro athlete, I always looked up to them."
It's a responsibility that Eguae does not treat lightly.
"He really was just going to come by for an hour on certain days," Daniels said. "But the first time he came he was just great. He was coming for the first hour and I said you're going to have so much fun you're going to want to stay two. He ended up staying two, and each time he came he stayed the whole time.
"Sometimes athletes can't make it -- they have classes, training and practices that take them away. But Nosa came regularly. He always saw the same group of kids, and they really looked forward to him coming."
Daniels said Eguae's status as a football player impressed the kids
"It was good for the kids to see someone who is a good athlete who is dedicated to his education," she said. "He kept coming, not because he had to for his service, but because he really enjoyed it. He wanted to give back. He's such a good role model, for the boys especially. To see a big athlete come in and say, 'you should read; it's a cool thing' is important. Just having that consistent guidance is important."
Teacher and pupil each benefitted.
"It was awesome," Eguae said. "Some of them trying to act a little too cool when it comes to reading, but when I show up I tell them that reading is cool. We have fun and enjoy the time together."
Daniels said Eguae always has an open invitation.
"He was real humble. He was there to serve," she said.