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Football alumnus turns to business and charity

Big screen football, a$3,000 cornhole tournament and American Idol star David Cook are lined up to fight ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease, this Saturday at the Curtis Hixon Park in an event sponsored by Irish 31, a South Tampa pub owned by former USF football player Jay Mize.

Mize, who sported aNo. 31 jersey from1997-2000, will be broadcasting the USF-Nevada game along with the UCF and FSU games on150-square-foot LED screens.

The event, which costs$20 to enter, was organized by Mize, who hopes to organize more such charity events in the region.

The Oracle: What inspires you to host these events?

Jay Mize: Our plan is to have a handful of these types of events to benefit a local charity for the interest of the community. I try to pick charities that I sort ofpersonally relate to and have some emotional interest in. Ihad a good friend thathas ALS.

Our next charity, werelooking forward to doing anevent with the pediatric cancer foundation since my brother had cancer when he was a kid.

O: How did you go fromplaying football to hostingcharity events?

JM: I played football at USF and I was a finance major. Ive really been an entrepreneur from day one. I started in the finance world with a mortgage business and real estate development world, and for the last 12 years Ive been starting andbuilding businesses. Thats what Ive done. Ive made a careerof it.

Thats one of your duties, as an entrepreneur. You want to be successful, but you want your business to have a positive impact on the community. Thats the duty of a community to make sure that not just your household is successful, but that everybody around you isbenefiting from you being a citizen.

O: Have you taken anything with you from your football days?

JM: There are a lot of things. The one thing that I useeveryday is that you want to find something yourepassionate about. I wasreally passionate aboutfootball. Thats why I enjoyed it. Thats why I played it. I try to take that same passion I had for football and try to put it in my everyday life and business.

For example, for this event, its got a lot of things Im passionate about. I lovefootball and sports. I love music and creating something from scratch. I love seeingothers benefit.

Those are all things I have a lot of passion for, and same thing with football. In college days, (you wonder) What am I going to do? What career am I going to go into? My advice would be just pick something youre passionate about. It all goes back to passion.

O: Do you still keep up with USF football?

JM: Im very involved. I go to every home game, and I go to one or two road games a year. Ive got a 7-year-old daughter whos missed two home games in her entire life. Ive got a 1-year-old son who, by the time he was six weeks old, had been to like four home games. Its a family affair every Saturday theres a home game.