When Matt Light retired from his position as offensive tackle with the New England Patriots in 2012, he didnít take his three Super Bowl rings and fade into what could have easily been a sweet and easy post-NFL life. Instead, this father of four devoted himself full-time to his family and to helping youth via the 14-year-old Light Foundation (mattlight72.com).
How is The Light Foundation impacting youth? There are many different ways but we have found that when you spend time with young people and SHOW them how to be REAL ó Responsible, Ethical, Accountable and ultimately [a] Leader ó they respond really well. Thatís all it takes, just spend time with them.
What do you think kids need most today to become successful adults? Kids today need a lot to be successful, the good news is they have plenty of resources and tons of info readily available to help them. The bad news is that there are far more negative influencers than positive. They tend to take the easy road instead of the path that requires hard work and determination. Ultimately, they need parents and family and friends to push them towards a life that includes taking risks and stepping out of the comfort zone. They need to compete for everything they want and not settle for the easy road.
Your foundation specifically aims to provide youth with ďunique outdoor learning experiences.Ē Tell us about some. We celebrate all the great things that make us wild by using the real wild as our classroom. Itís not always easy, lots of mosquitos and mud. But itís REAL. We run the trails for a workout and shoot 3D archery and play paintball. We make ancient arapuca traps to catch animals and fashion Atlatls from materials in the woods. We teach the kids how to be responsible and knowledgeable around firearms, something that isnít to be feared but handled with a great amount of respect. Swimming in a creek or pond for the first time will tell you a lot about yourself!
Who is/was a role model in your life?
My role models have always been my family. They are all so unique and talented. They pushed me my entire life. My mom is an amazing lady and worked in the school system all her life. My dad is a Renaissance man and one of the brightest persons alive today.† Iíve got family members who all contribute to our foundation†in big ways and work with the kids as though they were their own.
We think parents should encourage one another. Have you had any recent parenting wins? Iím very fortunate in that my wife is completely involved in all aspects of raising our kids. There are trade offs for parents in todayís world. Iím always on the go and in a lot of families both parents are working. So to have a wife like Susie means that our children can all benefit. We believe in tough love.
We donít sugar coat life, but at the same time we let them know that feelings are real and should be shared. It all comes down to looking at your family with the same set of eyes you would your business or your ďthings.Ē It takes constant preventative maintenance and crisis planning. Itís not easy and we make a lot of mistakes, but thatís how families work.
If you had a day free to do anything, what would you do?
On a free day I would be out with my kids hunting or fishing or just enjoying the outdoors.
Do any of your kids show any promise as a future football player? I donít know what the future holds for my kids with respect to sports. At this time, all four are interested in about anything but sports. I didnít grow up watching a single sport. My first time seeing a college or professional sport came while playing for the team, so my kids probably get that from me. They are very active and enjoy riding dirt bikes and horses and being kids.
What do you miss most about playing football? I miss some of the exciting aspects of football that you donít find in the real world. Itís a fast-paced life and there are a ton of unique personalities. Itís hard to find people in the business world who are as committed and able to work as hard as my former coaches and teammates.