Hard times create strong people.

Sam Mayes is the embodiment of this expression. The blue-collar grit and hard-times toughness coursing through the former All-American’s veins is standard issue for a “Youngstown Boy” growing up in the heart of the Rust Belt through ‘80s and ‘90s.

While there’s no denying that life in Youngstown, Ohio, leaves a lot to be desired, it does produce some damn good football and some damn fine football players.

Why We Care – Sam Mayes KOCO Interview


Like so many of his peers, Mayes was directionless until he found the football field. Cloaked in pads and covered in grass, he began to realize his purpose and potential. And standing in the trenches of the offensive line, he grew in character and in stature.

Following an outstanding high school career, the 6-5, 340-pound lineman accepted a scholarship to play at Oklahoma State and punched his ticket out of Youngstown.

In reality, Mayes’ talent on the gridiron is not all that uncommon where he grew up. Something about the Midwest and Big Ten country just breeds football players.

Why We Care quote from Sam Mayes about the importance of being able to play football

The problem is, not every Steel Town kid has an opportunity to find the field and use it as a platform to rise above their circumstances.

At one point, Mayes’ high school team shrunk from 70 players to 35, because half of them couldn’t afford the $600 fee required to play.

Those lost opportunities and crushed dreams are the reason Sam Mayes cares.

They are the reason he is so passionate about the Fields & Futures mission to put more kids on teams by removing accessibility and financial barriers.

He knows that if Oklahoma City kids can find a field, they can find themselves. And if they don’t have to worry about affording equipment, coaches, and field maintenance, they can focus on what matters—punching their ticket.

Why We Care – Sam Mayes with Jerrod Williams


Why We Care – Sam Mayes “Why I Care”


Let us know why you care at FieldsandFutures.org/whywecare.

Fields & Futures