The first line of Alejandro Villanueva's resume - All-Pro lineman for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers - is enough to draw attention. But it's the rest of Villanueva's remarkable life story that made him the ideal figure to stand in front of the 200 kids who attended his youth football camp recently at Kaiserslautern High School in Germany. Villanueva is a proud military kid himself, growing up on bases around the world in a lifestyle very familiar to the families in attendance at the camp.
He is a decorated Army veteran with three tours in Afghanistan. Now a star NFL player, Villanueva relishes the opportunity to again immerse himself in a military environment.
"For me, being able to come back to a military installation obviously does a lot of good for my psyche," Villanueva said. "Being able to stay involved and stay close to the military community." The two-day youth camp was the centerpiece of Villanueva's' USO-sponsored visit to the Kaiserslautern Military Community, a three-day tour that also included appearances and autograph signings at area commissaries and the Ramstein base exchange. Villanueva recalled his own youthful encounter with star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at a camp during his high school days at SHAPE, years before he shared an NFL gridiron with Fitzgerald, and expressed his wish to have a similar impact now that he's in that same prominent position.
"I always thought that the impression that you make, maybe on one kid out of 200, can change someone's life," Villanueva said. Read more.