TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute native Steve Weatherford has been a fixture in his hometown since his NFL career began in 2006. The New York Giants punter returns on a regular basis to help with numerous charitable activities, including a 5K run and a popular June football camp.
The Vigo County School Corp., and Superintendent Dan Tanoos, want to repay Weatherford by giving him a postseason trip to Hawaii for the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
VCSC has put on a full-court press to encourage the Wabash Valley to vote for Weatherford for the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s all-star game.
Tanoos has long been known for his support for area athletes and his effort to put Weatherford in the Pro Bowl is no exception.
“Steve is a good friend not only to me and my family, but a tremendous friend to VCSC in his efforts to clothe and see needs of children in Vigo County. There’s a lot of things he does that people are unaware of,” Tanoos said. “It’s a way for us to repay him. In addition, I think he’s the best punter, as he showed in the Super Bowl last year, and he deserves it.”
Weatherford does not currently lead the NFC’s Pro Bowl voting, which concludes on Dec. 17. New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead tops the NFC punter vote count at 75,763 as of Wednesday. Weatherford is currently averaging 46.9 yards per punt for the Giants, his highest career average. Morstead leads the NFC at 50 yards per punt.
Tanoos’ efforts on Weatherford’s behalf have been tireless. Committees were put into place near the beginning of the school year to coordinate VCSC’s efforts to help Weatherford’s Pro Bowl cause.
To that end, principals at VCSC schools have encouraged faculty and students to get on a computer during free time and vote for Weatherford.
There’s a permanent link on the VCSC website to direct interested fans who want to vote for Weatherford.
“I’ve been in contact with the sports information director at Illinois [Weatherford’s college alma mater] and he’s let their 50,000 followers know about it. We’ve been active with local media. We’ve taken an all-out effort,” Tanoos said.
Terre Haute North High School, Weatherford’s local alma mater, even devoted their winter display at Deming Park to his Pro Bowl cause.
The advocacy by VCSC on Weatherford’s behalf might appear unusual to those who aren’t sports fans or who believe it goes beyond the bounds of a school corporation’s mission.
Tanoos said the effort fits in with his general philosophy on how schools should interact with students both when they’re in school and when they leave.
“I’ve told our coaches that we’re not coaches for a season, we’re coaches for a lifetime with our students. That’s a philosophy I think is important,” Tanoos said. “We are going to be there for them until they’ve reached a point in their life where they no longer need our services in terms of guidance.”
Tanoos counts Weatherford among the many former students he considers a close friend.
“Some of my closest friends are former students. In Steve’s case, it’s a repayment and a way to say thank you for what you did after you graduated. He’s never forgotten about the kids here,” Tanoos said.