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Xavier Magazine | December 11, 2017

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Almni Profile: Youth Mentor

Almni Profile: Youth Mentor
By Julie Irwin Zimmerman

George Powell
Bachelor of Science in physical education, 1965
Master of Education, 1972
Retired educator, Washington, DC


Go West Young Man | Powell, a Washington, DC, native, had completed his freshman year at Virginia Union University in Richmond when he decided he had to see more of the country. “I just packed my gym bag and said, ‘I’m going to the Midwest. I want to see the world,’” says Powell, 72. “I thought Xavier was a good place to come in and sharpen my skills and then give back.”

Knock-Knock | Athletic recruiting was a little different in those days. A student-athlete today wouldn’t, for example, show up at a coach’s office unannounced, ask for a tryout, and begin classes and practice a few days later. But that’s exactly what Powell did on Xavier’s now-defunct football team in the early 1960s.

Guiding Pillars | Giving back became the guiding principle for Powell’s life, along with education. He graduated in 1965 after studying physical education and psychology, and returned for a master’s in education. He volunteered at the Boys Club and the De Porres Center in CIncinnati, and would bring young boys to campus to expose them to college.

Teacher-Coach | After stints at the Ohio State University and Virginia Union, he later coached and taught at high schools in Cincinnati and Columbus. Some of his players went on to play football professionally, including two from Lincoln Heights High School in Cincinnati. Along the way, he mentored many students, urging them to take their education seriously and use it as a stepping-stone to a better life.

Open Door | “The door was open and I told kids to come with me. I tried to do everything I could to show them education is the way to a better life,” he says.

Family Man | Powell and his wife raised their two children to value education as well; his daughter Angela is a physician in Akron and his son George is a high-school teacher in Virginia. Powell moved back to Washington, DC, and lives in the house where he grew up.

Football Reunion | He was back on Xavier’s campus last year, when former Xavier football players were honored at a men’s basketball game. The school ended its football program in 1973, but many players stay in touch 40 years later.

Student-Athletes | Powell marveled at the changes on campus since he was here, and he spoke with pride about the emphasis the school still places on academics for its student-athletes. Though his teaching days are over, Powell’s mentoring and encouragement live on.

Giving Back | “We have to learn how to give back, because there are so many people out there who, with just a little bit of help, can be great people. Everybody needs a hand sometimes,” he says.

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