Aug. 14, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
If you know Anthony Egbuniwe, it will come as no surprise that the former Georgia Tech linebacker’s football senses are tingling this the time of year.
Kickoff at Virginia Tech is less than three weeks away, coaches are hollering, pads are poppin’, muscles are aching, and . . . somehow a young man who toyed with the idea of trying to forge a pro football career before instead throwing in a year ago with Microsoft has to contain himself.
Hey, it’s tough to just walk away. Just before moving from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. nearly a year ago, Egbuniwe spent time with Tech teammates now in the NFL. Derrick Morgan of the Titans and Michael Johnson of the Bengals are doing what he did and wouldn’t have minded doing. It might have seemed a farewell of sorts. After the visit, he packed a U-Haul and drove to D.C.
Tough break, right?
“I got a story to tell you.”
With a chuckle coming through the phone, it’s easy to picture Egbuniwe’s big grin in the mind’s eye. It’s been 11 months since that smile’s been heard. Before another word is said, gut instinct says the game hasn’t left him.
“I’ve been involved with football even though I’m not playing any more. I’m doing community work and outreach aligning with Microsoft and teammates and guys I played with and against,” he said. “Also, I took on coaching 10- and 11-year-olds so that puts me back into the practice framework.”
A few more chuckles reign. So now Anthony’s doing the hollering with a whistle around his neck.
The idea of coaching was always there. It crystallized when Egbuniwe’s roommate, former Tech teammate B.J. Machen, was talking about his younger brothers getting into the sport of football. “He was talking about how he’d like to get involved. I said I would too.”
So there’s that, and that’s just the half of it.
With support from Microsoft, Egbuniwe has organized a community service. He’s calling it AthleTECH. As you might ascertain, it brings together his backgrounds
“It gives back to kids in the D.C. area, and we’re trying to take it nation-wide. It brings kids involved in sports and shows them that they can get involved in technology as well in a fun and meaningful way. You can be an athlete and a nerd.”
Egbuniwe put together an event July 6-7 at a Georgetown Boys & Girls Club, and Tech was well represented. Johnson and Morgan were there along with former Yellow Jackets Vance Walker, Keyaron Fox and Anthony Allen helped out. So did junior outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, who is from the D.C. area.
“The first day we went to the Microsoft store with 25 boys and girls and everybody picked their favorite technology. Each player had three or four kids, and they all made a commercial encompassing that technology and made commercials incorporating their favorite teams,” Anthony said. “The second day we had a field day with 140 kids. First, it was a football camp, we broke up for lunch, and then had X-Box Kinect out, and showed how technology can help with fitness as well.”
Time was a tad short on the phone so details are not long here. Egbuniwe said he wants to grow his program, and he was proud to say that a Microsoft vice president attended the two-day event, and so did the president of the D.C.-area Boys & Girls Clubs. Anthony is working to bring the two organizations together in a meaningful way.
The process was not entirely new to him. After transferring from Tulsa to Tech, Egbuniwe took advantage of several opportunities on and around the Flats. He worked with Kim King Associates in Atlanta, and that company — started by the late Tech quarterback — supports youths in Atlanta’s West End and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlanta.
There’s a lot of Atlanta overlap for Egbuniwe, who played for the Jackets in 2008-’10. The Greenville, S.C., native was in town later in July for a two-week conference, and visited with head coach Paul Johnson and others in the football program.
He still has his mind on the Jackets . . . and football.
“Virginia Tech is where I’m going to be, front row,” he said. “I’m just going to get a hotel room and enjoy the game.”
Egbuniwe is still enjoying the game in several ways, and he sounds quite well integrated into his new life. He took an e-mail address over the phone Tuesday, and quickly countered: “You know, [Microsoft] Outlook has opened up some new addresses, and it helps you save a lot of your information.” More chuckles, then, “Ok, I’ll stop right there.” Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.