Advertisement
  1. News

For former player, football and food are keys to success

Julius Forte, far left, instructs a group of young men how to cook after a summer workout in Gulfport. Forte, a former USF football standout, now runs a food business and mentors teenagers. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Nov. 1, 2018

Julius Forte stood on Gulfport Beach coaching six teenage boys.

He'd laid out a course: first came the rope, then the cones.

For an hour, he helped them develop their football skills — quickness and agility.

But the real work came later.

Away from the beach, under a pavilion, they peeled off their football gloves.

Forte, a 6-foot-5 former defensive end for the University of South Florida, handed them mixing bowls, spoons and seasonings.

He smiled as the teens took their positions — dicing, sauteing, chopping — to make a spaghetti dinner.

They looked as comfortable in the kitchen as on the field.

That was the goal.

Forte's nonprofit organization — Greater University Inc. — helps young men learn lessons and develop fellowship.

He was like them once. He knows how football dreams can die.

His plan B became culinary school. Then in 2017, he started his own catering company, Forte Fuels.

Greater U was co-founded with Richard Prince, a friend he met at youth basketball when they were 7 years old.

"Unfortunately, literally everyone that I grew up hanging out with, as far as my neighborhood goes, is either dead or in jail," Forte said. "I could of been easily a statistic. Cooking saved my life."

For Forte, food and football are both about healthy choices.

He isn't the type of coach to bark and say "drop and give me 20." Instead, when the kids yell out "how many?" Forte responds with a smirk. "How many are you going to do?"

Greater U is a free program. It operates from "our hearts, not from our pockets," said Prince, who works in the mayor's office. "This is our service, this is our charity."

Steven Brown, 16, and Kyler Reynolds, 17, are grateful for the mentors and the meals.

It feels like family, Brown said.

"We push each other," he said. "There's no days off."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  3. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  4. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  6. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  7. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  9. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  10. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement