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Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: Ryan Nece of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is teaching high school students the about the Power of Giving

I started a foundation in 2006 centered on teaching high school students the principles of the Power of Giving. We take high school juniors and seniors through a two-year leadership development and service program that equips them with the tools needed to be strong community leaders. Our students impact the lives of more than 2,000 […]


I started a foundation in 2006 centered on teaching high school students the principles of the Power of Giving. We take high school juniors and seniors through a two-year leadership development and service program that equips them with the tools needed to be strong community leaders. Our students impact the lives of more than 2,000 people a year through completion of almost 3,000 service project hours. We want all of our students to be able to ask one simple question to those around them daily for the rest of their lives: “How can I help you today?”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Nece, Founder of the Ryan Nece Foundation. Nece is Managing Partner, Next Play Capital and former Linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002–2007, Linebacker for the Detroit Lions 2008.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

My family has been investing in tech since the late 1980s. I was fortunate to watch my father start an investment firm focused on investing in Silicon Valley in the 2000s. After playing in the NFL and working in real estate for a few years, I helped co-found a tech start up with my Bucs teammate Jeb Terry called Straightcast Media. We built that company over four years, then we were acquired by Fox Sports. We saw a need to help give our community the opportunity to invest with the world’s best venture capitalists, so we launched Next Play Capital modeled after my father’s original firm.

What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Success is relative. I would first advise that person to define what they are willing to suffer for. Once you have an understanding of how much you can suffer, you will have a better understanding of the type of success you want to pursue.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I had a coach in junior high school named Jim McGary. Coach McGary taught me how to find pride in working hard. No matter if we won (we always won) or lost, what mattered to him was how hard we prepared to play, how hard we played together, and what we learned after the game was over that would help us work even harder. He was a fantastic person and coach, and I am grateful that the lessons he taught me have helped in so many areas of my life.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I started a foundation in 2006 centered on teaching high school students the principles of the Power of Giving. We take high school juniors and seniors through a two-year leadership development and service program that equips them with the tools needed to be strong community leaders. Our students impact the lives of more than 2,000 people a year through completion of almost 3,000 service project hours. We want all of our students to be able to ask one simple question to those around them daily for the rest of their lives: “How can I help you today?”

What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?

We use a grassroots approach in the Tampa Bay area where we operate, and our strong volunteer and donor base help support our foundation.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I believe it is more important than ever to equip young people with a selfless heart. In a world that focuses on self first, we will need strong minds and selfless leaders in the future to help us achieve our goals as a city, as a state, as a country, and as a world.

What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Never name your foundation after you. It creates too many problems and doesn’t allow others to know what you truly do.

2. Before you start a business, make sure you meet with a minimum of five other people who have started businesses, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to learn from them.

3. It what you do when no one is watching that matters. It is easy to work hard, do/say the right thing, etc. when everyone is watching, but it is what you are doing when you are alone that matters.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would be great if we all would post an image, video, story on our social feeds about someone else and use our platform to brag about someone else more often.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

Everyone wants to be successful but not everyone is willing to do what it takes to be successful. Sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do to get where you want to go.

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