As Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy waited to raise the Lombardi Trophy after the 2007 Super Bowl, he thought of a junior high school assistant principal.
That man, Leroy Rockquemore, had taken an interest in Dungy and his teenage friends, talking about music and football with them at lunch and taking them to high school games. Later, Rockquemore intervened when a disagreement with his high school football coach had Dungy threatening to sit out his senior season.
“I thought about that: What if Leroy Rockquemore hadn’t sat down once a week with us?” said Dungy, addressing a crowd of about 500 at Imago Dei Community Church in Portland on Saturday. “Would I be here coaching the Super Bowl champions?”
Dungy spoke as part of an effort by Portland-based nonprofit The Mentoring Project to recruit enough mentors to erase a waiting list of 1,000 kids, mostly boys. The crowd was mostly male, black men and white men, from those still in their teens and wearing high school football T-shirts to those whose hairlines retreated long before their resolve.