When the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker heard that his alma mater, Saginaw High, his alma mater, was in so much financial trouble that it would have to charge students to play sports, Woodley stepped in.
Not only did he help his school, but he donated $60,000 to cover participation fees for every Saginaw, Mich. Public Schools student-athlete.
When the announcement was made to coaches this week, there was a thunderous roar.
“The whole place erupted,” Saginaw High athletic director Dan Szatkowski told MLive.com. “It was electric. It was a gold-medal cheer.”
Woodley, a 2009 Pro Bowler, starred at Saginaw High before playing for Michigan. He was a second-round pick of the Steelers in 2007.
Woodley’s donation covers the participation costs of middle school, junior high and high school athletes in Saginaw, each of whom were affected when the district’s athletic department budget was cut.
Participation fees for athletes in high school, for example, were $75 per school year.
Szatkowski told MLive.com that number of students at fall practices were down because of the fees.
“People can make the argument that it wasn’t going to hurt participation, but it was,” Szatkowski told the website. “Because of this, kids will have an opportunity to participate, an opportunity to be part of a team. People don’t understand how important that is.
“Fall sports practice has been going on for over a week. I’ve seen the numbers. They’re low. This is one block removed for kids to participate. Hopefully, with this taken care of, we’ll see more kids playing.”
As for Woodley, he clearly has a love for his school. In January, the linebacker donated 100 hooded sweatshirts to the high school’s “Mighty Marchin’ Trojan Band” before it performed at halftime of the Sugar Bowl between Michigan and Virginia Tech. The Wolverines won in overtime, 23-20.