|Bly to Host Celebrity Golf Tournament|
There are a lot of different ways to give back. Some people choose Boys' & Girls' Clubs, something they were a part of growing up, different things like that. I wasn't a part of the Boys' & Girls' Clubs. I grew up playing recreational sports, so that was the area I chose to target as far as giving back once I made it professionally, and that is what I've been doing.
I donate tickets to the Detroit Recreation Center here, something like 25 tickets per game. I have youth programs, I have camps, things like that. When I was growing up as a kid, I didn't have professional athletes, people that I looked up to, the opportunity to meet and interact with professional athletes. I wanted to do something like that, to have the chance to interact with kids and give back.
My ultimate goal is to do camps and do things in Chapel Hill. Hopefully, this [golf] weekend can forge something big, but I want to build and add something in the near future, like a camp or youth program.
You know how you never have all the athletic fields [and facilities] in the same area? You have to go to different places to play and participate in soccer, baseball, basketball. My ultimate goal, if this builds and becomes successful, is to build a facility with everything right there in one vicinity.
But for the most part, over the years I've been doing youth programs and donating tickets. I had a camp last year in Detroit, and I also did one back home. Ultimately, I want to bring that to Chapel Hill also.
You talk of "giving back." It almost seems as if you have a sense of obligation to do so. Where does that come from?
Just growing up, being in a household, made me very appreciative of what I was able to accomplish. Just coming from Chapel Hill, a lot of people helped me get where I am today. I'm loyal to my school and a big fan. That is one of the reasons I donated a scholarship back to the school because I wanted to show my appreciation to Carolina for what they helped me accomplish as a collegiate athlete and fulfilling my dream to become a professional athlete. That's all it is, just showing appreciation for all I have been able to accomplish and I want to help give the same opportunity to other kids.
One of my former [UNC] teammates, Octavius Barnes, is one of my closest friends. He is an academic advisor at Carolina. He played basketball as well at Carolina. Miss Angela Lee, with Carolina Pros, they host Alumni Weekend at Carolina. We just kind of were talking and it came up. I had actually tried to do something earlier.
I noticed that no former Carolina athletes (football players) come back ever since Mack Brown left. None of the guys from the '90s seemed to come back. I thought it would be a good idea to gather together some of the guys I played with -- the Julius Peppers, the Brian Simmonses, the Greg Ellises, the Chris Keldorfs, Natrone [Means], Willie Parker -- to get together again along with some of the older guys who played in the '60s, '70s, and the '80s and merge along with basketball and just have one big weekend. We can help give exposure to our football program because when you get all of us together that gives us exposure and a chance to interact with some of the college athletes. And hopefully, it can boost the recruiting.
John Bunting doesn't really have a relationship with some of the guys who played in the '90s. The only guys he has a relationship with are the guys that come back, the guys that he coached. It gives everybody a chance to interact and meet one another and enjoy a great weekend. That's how the idea came about.
I've got commitments from a lot of former Carolina guys that I played with during the '90s. There is also Marshall Faulk who is committed, DeAngelo Hall from my hometown, Tory Holt. I wanted to get some other guys, some guys I was cool with that I have good relationships with. I wanted to invite them to the weekend and show them Carolina love and let them have a chance to experience what we are going to experience that weekend. I have commitments from my guys, and from this point we are trying to get the field filled up to move forward and have a nice Memorial Day Weekend.
What are your goals for the golf tournament this year and into the future, assuming that you want this to be an annual event?
My goal is to make sure that I get everybody in and make sure everybody has a good time. In the future, I would like for it to [grow], but I told Miss Angela Lee, the director of Carolina Pros, if I tie my name to something I want to make sure that it is done right. I want it to be done first class. [UNC]-Chapel Hill has definitely given me a lot, so if I'm bringing something back to Chapel Hill, it has to be done right and be done first class.
But really it's not about me, it's not about Carolina Pros. It's about the [Dre Bly] Foundation. I want to build something big. I want to have the opportunity to start having some things for Chapel Hill, making this event bigger. I feel like if there is anybody who can do it in Chapel Hill from the football program, I feel like I can do it, and I feel like my guys who I played with will support me, so that's why I'm doing it.
How will you measure the success of this tournament? What would make it a success?
What would make it a success is if we have Carolina fans having a chance to interact with guys like myself, Alge Crumpler, Willie Parker, Natrone Means, Marshal Faulk. If you are a fan of football, if you want to support the cause, my goal is to have 144 to golf. I have 36 of my football buddies along with some other guys I have played with.
I want to get the field filled up, but my mission is to try to give John Bunting, the head coach at Carolina, a chance to interact with some of the guys who haven't been back and start something new, something different, because at the letterman's weekend [in late March], none of the guys from the 90's were there. That's a part of what I'm trying to do is to build a family and to build [an event] that everybody can look forward to every year.
You mentioned filling the field. Will those who sign up be matched up with the celebrity players? How will that be set up?
You can sign up on our website where you can register. It is $250 per person, $1,000 per foursome. That allows you to get into the tournament. If you are interested in choosing who you golf with, we are having a pairing dinner at The Governors' Club Saturday night and you get to [bid] on who you golf with in a silent auction. If you want to choose who they play with they have that option. I think some people might want to choose who they golf with.
We are also going to have paraphernalia, autographed jerseys and things like that. All the proceeds go towards the foundation. If you don't choose who you golf with, you will be assigned with someone.
Do you have specific plans for the proceeds, or do they go to the general foundation fund?
Everything is going towards the foundation. We came up with the idea in January, so we are [putting it together] this year on really short notice. [The planning] went on into February, and March is when we started moving forward on it. That's why the first year we aren't going to try to have a camp, something for the kids; we didn't have enough time, but definitely next year that is something that I look forward to. I want to get that going also.
Come back to InsideCarolina.com tomorrow for part two of this interview.