Pro-Football Player for Steelers Gives Youth Valuable Advice
MONTGOMERY – On Friday morning, Montgomery high school students had the opportunity to hear some valuable advice from Andy Russell, a former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played six consecutive Pro Bowls between 1971 and 1976 and was chosen by the NFL Hall of Fame Selection Committee to the NFL All Pro Team of the 70’s. Now a financial planner and entrepreneur, Russell is recognized as a visionary and a “can do, full steam ahead” sort of guy, according to Fritz M. Heinemann, President and CEO of Economics Pennsylvania.
PA Economics, a non-profit organization launched in 1978, sponsored the student program. Their purpose is to educate youth about financial literacy and help them develop problem solving skills. With the help of representatives from business, education, labor, agriculture, and government, they consult with educational institutions to help young Americans understand the nature and structure of a global economy and their role as productive members of society.
Residing in Pittsburgh with his wife, Russell started a Foundation named after his family and has raised over five million dollars for various youth organizations. Helping with PA Economics and based on life’s accomplishments, Russell is committed to reaching out to young people inspiring them to lead with integrity and high personal ethics throughout their remaining years. He gave examples from his pro-football experiences to the high schoolers on how he was able to take a weakness and make it a strength on his journey to success. “We are all on a journey,” he said. “The destination is the journey itself,” he relayed to the student body, explaining how many of them will be doctors, teachers, scientists, actors or even professional athletes. “Other countries don’t have what we have – these opportunities to be what we want to be. It’s not about money, it’s about challenges and how we deal with them,” he added.
He spoke about “old school values” and emphasized the importance of choosing friends carefully. He pointed to his good buddy, Jack Schneider, who was sitting in the front row listening to Russell recount the stories about the time the two of them traveled to Europe together alone at age 15. Schneider and Russell also played football together in high school in Missouri and have remained best friends over the years. Schneider who now lives in Danville, came to see his friend as they reminisced about their time together one summer as high school students biking from Glasgow, Scotland to Naples, Italy. “He gave me encouragement at every given moment. “We slept on haystacks in barns. We bought our own bikes and we had to pay our parents back in a year,” said Russell. “But we saw Europe together and we came back much more self-reliant.”
Summarizing the traits by using the first letter to the word ‘animal’, Russell explained to the youth on how to make related associations as a method to learn and grasp concepts. The letter A means ‘attitude’, “Be happy and stay positive.” N is to never quit and I is for integrity. “Always be honest and don’t lie to yourself,” he told his audience.
M is for maturity and L for loyalty as he related a story about breaking team records. “Admit faults and mistakes and be accountable is for A, L stands for Leadership because everyone can be a leader if they want to,” he said. And finally, S stands for self-reliance and independence looking for opportunities along the way.
After the program, Superintendent Daphne Ross received a Steelers Jersey and thanked Russell for his strong message and life stories about football, college and entrepreneurship.