Field House 100 continues to make positive headway locally
Twin brothers Brandon and Brian Smart from Tennessee have been making positive headway in the territory for the past few years, through their non-profit group Field House 100 American Samoa (FH100), in which Brandon is the Executive Director and along with his brother Brian, they are pastors in the Tafuna Baptist Church.
FH100 American Samoa, which started in the territory in 2009, was organized and designed to help student athletes gain acceptance into college by helping students transition from high school to college.
In speaking about FH100 American Samoa and the recruiting process the student athlete must go through, Brandon Smart said, “The most difficult part of the recruiting process is educating the parents on the process.”
“Most families across the United States will never go through the process, in keeping up with all of the different rules and regulations. It can be overwhelming. For example, explaining what a core GPA is with a sliding scale and how to read the NCAA 48H can be confusing.”
“When we first starting doing this, there was a learning curve for us also. We were dealing with 40 athletes and over 150 schools at once, so we were able to learn quickly. By the time the family starts to understand the process, it is over. We make sure that we walk with the families and the schools as a group — together, to make it a win-win for the college and student athlete,” he said.
Brian Smart moved to American Samoa in 2006 to start an English speaking service at Happy Valley Church and his desire to reach the community led him to start an annual summer football camp that brings high school and college coaches to the island to teach fundamentals and discuss educational and social topics specific to teenagers.
The sports ministry of the church grew so fast that Brian offered his brother Brandon an opportunity to move to the island and develop a non-profit organization that focuses specifically on getting student athletes a college education through scholarships while playing sports.
“I was familiar with an organization doing this in my hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee” said Brandon. “The organization, Field House 100, which is led by former National Football League player Brent Alexander, was started in 2006 to give students the opportunity to go to college and play sports to help them earn a degree.”.
Smart and Alexander met each other while coaching and teaching together at Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tennessee. Brandon Smart had been an advisor to the organization on educational issues before moving to American Samoa. In 2009, Smart and Alexander agreed to start an FH100 branch in American Samoa.
According to Executive Director Smart, FH100 American Samoa has helped over 65 athletes gain college scholarships totaling over two and half million dollars in the first three years. The football camp that started as an outreach to the community has now grown to serve approximately 450 student athletes each summer and is currently the longest running camp of its kind on island. The organization continues to work with the local schools and the community to educate student athletes by identifying talent, creating highlight films, helping with important work and working directly with colleges in the United States.
Colleges from across the United States use FH100 to recruit students from American Samoa for football, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball.
“It is the desire of the organization to continue to reach the people of the South Pacific,” said Smart.
In March of 2012, FH100 made its first trip to Auckland, New Zealand to work with coaches there on opportunities for their student athletes.