Here's nice interview with RS Senior OL James Hong on the All-N-One program, the Lil' Coogs and Cougar Football. Enjoy!
RS - James where are you from and why did you decide to attend the University of Houston?
JH - I'm from Houston, born and raised. I decided to come to the University of Houston because it is a great school, rich in tradition and close to home.
RS - What are you majoring in and what are your ambitions following school?
JH - I am double majoring in finance and management. After I graduate, I would like to work in investments and real estate. I might go to graduate school and go for a MBA as well.
RS - Tell us about your experience as a student athlete?
JH - Being a student athlete at a major university is probably one of the best experiences a college student could ask for. I have had nothing but great experiences being a student athlete. The years fly by when you're having fun.
RS - Many of us are familiar with the great work you do in coordinating the Lil' Coogs, All-N-One program. Can you please tell us about the program, what we will be sponsoring and how it benefits the football program as well?
JH - The Lil' Coogs program was started in conjunction with the University of Houston to cater to past, present and future Cougars. The Little Coogs program is designed to help Houston area kids through outreach efforts by current student-athletes through generous sponsorships by our alumni. Schools invite our program out to be guests for special events, to speak to their students about staying in school, staying off drugs, being a good citizen and to build a bridge from grade school to the University of Houston. We invite Houston area youth to our football, basketball, baseball and softball games so they can experience a college sporting event and see what the University of Houston has to offer. A majority of the kids we invite out are disadvantaged youth and may not get to experience these events if it weren't for our sponsors. The football season is by far our biggest and most requested part of the program. Through our generous sponsors, over 300 kids a game fill our stands and get to experience a college football game. Pre-game, they get to tailgate at the John I. Prestwood Family Pavilion where they get to eat and receive a t-shirt. Other giveaway items are also given out. Sponsors can donate as little as $35 (Firstdowner) to sponsor one kid per game for the entire season, which includes a t-shirt and food at the Pavilion. Our biggest package is $525 (All-N-One) and it sponsors 75 kids per game for the entire season and that includes a t-shirt and food for tailgating as well. We have other packages in between. This benefits not only the kids, but the football program because the kids get to build a relationship with the players and our team. Many of the kids recognize the players that came to their schools and talked to them. More families and kids follow the UH football program because of this.
RS - Please give us a little history on the program and how it was founded.
JH - All-N-One has been running for about four years now. We started out providing the Katy area summer youth programs and it has expanded to what it is today. We provide activities all year round now. It was founded by Jaron Barganier, and when we decided to start giving back what we were so blessed with; the opportunity to go to a good school and play football. At the time, Jaron was playing football and we started to do guest speaking at our former schools and we had such a great response, other schools started to call on us as well. Soon enough we started to grow into summer camps and other youth programs. When we were growing up, we had role models. We wanted today's youth to have something positive in their lives amidst all the hardships kids have to deal with.
RS - Please tell us what your role and responsibilities are in the organization.
JH - I am the Vice-President/CIO of All-N-One. My responsibilities are handling all of the business operations of All-N-One. I also set up each camp and customize the structure to each location.
RS - Once you have graduated will you still be active in this program or will you need new recruits from the athletic department to help continue it's success? Also, please comment on the success you have already had with this program.
JH - After I graduate, I still plan on having an active role in the program. We are always looking for athletes that want to give back to the community and continue the program to bring it to the next level. The success that we have had so far has been unbelievable. We have nothing less than 100% support from the university, the Athletic Department, the community and the Alumns. This program is successful because of all the support we are getting from these areas. Without them, we would not be where we are today.
RS - What are your expectations and how far can you see or do you want the All-N-One program to go in the future?
JH - As of right now there are no boundaries to which we can achieve. I was told that we are the first college to ever have a program like this and the people in the youth community have told me we could become the next YMCA. We'll see where we can go from here.
RS - I noticed you had a rather large group of kids at the Memphis basketball game last year. Are going to continue trying to incorporate this program during basketball season, and if so, how many basketball games per year do you plan on taking the kids to?
JH - Last year was the first year we tried to do other sporting events. We will continue to go the basketball games, baseball games and softball games. We will try to go to at least two or three of each sport, but obviously our best response has been our football games.
RS - I have noticed a board on the wall in the alumni center across from the All-N-One office with players names and a point system on it, please explain what that is all about. And if you don't mind give us an update on a few of the other athletes who have made it a real success and what the expectations are of them to do to support the cause. For instance do they go to schools and guest speak, etc.?
JH - The board outside of the office has all the names of the athletes that have been an important part of our program and for each activity and school they go to, they get points. It serves as a recognition tool for everyone that is involved in the program. It is just something to show the other athletes that there are players that can donate time out of their college schedule to help out kids. A of the current athletes that are involved in our program include, Roy Swan, Anthony Evans, Marquay Love, Harold Taylor, Sterling Doty, Krystal Ward, Joann Overstreet, Ashley Cotton, Ivan Diggs, Tristen Williams, and many more. These athletes are expected to guest speak at schools, and participate with kids during special events, such as field days. They also mentor kids year round and during our summer programs and camps. v RS - How well has this program been received from other teammates and athletes in other departments of the University.
JH - I have heard nothing but positive things from my teammates and other departments at the university. I have guys constantly asking me when the next event will be. More and more guys on the team are getting involved because they want to get involved. We don't make anyone do anything they don't want to do. They do it on a voluntary basis. Our athletes are getting more support than years past partly because their involvement in the program.
RS - What types of marketing do you do for this program and are you trying to get the local media to endorse this program more?
JH - Honestly, we don't do a lot of marketing. It spreads through word of mouth. We have contacts with key organizations around Houston and somehow word gets to another organization and that is how we get acquainted. People also visit our website, www.allnone.org . We advertise for our summer programs through flyers and brochures. We have had a couple of local papers write about us in the past. The media has been pretty good about endorsing our program.
RS - Is there anything the casual fan and supporter of the University can do to help market the All-N-One Program?
JH - People ask us all the time how they can help the program. Although sponsorships are the driving factor of funding the program, people can also help with their resources. Maybe you know of an organization that might benefit from our program or you know of a business that would like to sponsor an event. Whatever it may be, every little bit helps. Let people know about our University and the great things we are doing here. That is the best marketing for our program.
RS - Please give us some contact information on how we can get involved in this worthy cause.
JH - You can reach me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (281) 543-9676. You can also reach Jaron Barganier by e-mailing him at email@example.com or by calling (832) 212-5851. These are direct lines. You may also call our office in the AAC at (713) 743-9492.
Now, let's talk some Cougar Football.
RS - What are your thoughts and expectation of the team heading into this season?
JH - I believe we have a great group of guys and coaches that are willing to do whatever it takes to win and be great. Our team is closer, stronger, faster and smarter than in the previous years I've been here. I believe we have nothing but high expectations this year after a disappointing season last year. Our goal as a team is to be Conference USA Champions and we continue to work towards that goal everyday.
RS - A lot has been made of the youth of the offensive line last year and even this season, please give us your thoughts on how the offensive line is shaping up and how the off-season conditioning program is going?
JH - We do have some young guys on the offensive line, but we also have some veterans as well. I think the offensive line has shown a significant amount of improvement since last season and we are not only stronger physically, but mentally as well. As a unit, I believe we are much smarter in knowing our blocking schemes than last year. We've also got some guys that are versatile and can play more than one position. Off-season is going really well. We've got some new young guys working out with us and everyone is getting stronger and faster. The summer workouts can get grueling at times with the heat, but the team has responded well.
RS - What position will you be playing this season and how do you see your role for the team in the upcoming season?
JH - I am at right tackle right now, but I can play both sides. My role on the team is simply to do what Coach wants me to do. My job is to be as prepared as every other player when we play on Saturdays. I want what is best for the team and I will do everything I can to contribute to our goal and win games.
RS - After a disappointing season last year, what has the attitude and enthusiasm been like on the team and do you see a difference from this time a year ago?
JH - I think after such a disappointing season last year, we are ready and determined to do everything possible not to feel like what we did last year. It left a bad taste in our mouths and we want to taste the fruits of our labor. We all have positive attitudes going into this year and we are excited to have another opportunity to show everyone how good we really are. I do see a difference in my teammates and the way they approach practice and workouts. It seems as if everyone is out to prove themselves again and they seem more motivated. It is a new year, a new season and a new start for this team.
RS - Do you ever read CoogFans.com and what are your thoughts of it as a means of fan information/interaction?
JH - I do read Coogfans when I get a chance. I think it is a good forum for fans to interact with each other, especially for those who are not in the Houston area.
RS - Is there anything else you like to say to all the Cougar faithful out there?
JH - I would like to thank all of our Cougar family for their continued support. Through thick and thin you have been behind us. It is our turn now to return the favor and do our job on the field. We've got the best fans a team could ask for and I look forward to seeing all of you this season. Go Coogs!
Thank you so much James for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview. No matter what happens in football you have certainly made your mark on this program for years to come. You are a great ambassador for the program and we appreciate all the work you have done with the Little Coogs.