MINNEAPOLIS — Winston DeLattiboudere has made multiple visits to local elementary and middle schools during his five-year tenure as a Gophers defensive lineman. The senior from Baltimore reads books and play games with the kids.
Now, DeLattiboudere has hatched an even bigger plan. With his initiative, the Gophers will host a school-supply drive for fans to donate items during its open practice at 4:15 p.m. Friday at the outdoor fields at the Athletes’ Village.
The supplies — notebooks, pens, pencils — will be gifted to the Hmong International Academy in Minneapolis, where DeLattiboudere has volunteered, and the Rock Primary School in Jamaica, where DeLattiboudere’s family has roots and relatives.
“Education is the biggest thing in a child’s life,” said DeLattiboudere, who has an undergraduate degree in sociology of law, criminology and deviance. “The more educated you are, the better equipped you are for anything that you want to go into. … I want to be able to affect kids way earlier than a lot of people look to affect them.”
DeLattiboudere was among 93 players named in July to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to the college football player who best serves his community. The U said he has 65 hours of documented community service, plus more unrecorded trips to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
DeLattiboudere’s father emigrated from Jamaica when Winston was child, and Winston said he heard about a lack of school supplies in Jamaica through his grandmother and other family members. He has cousins who attend the school he’s trying to help.
Students there have been writing on chalkboards instead of on paper, and they didn’t caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies. The addition of the Hmong school came after DeLattiboudere talked to students there about being “change agents” in their school.
DeLattiboudere leads by example in being an influencer. “I was, like, I love these kids and would love to get them in the school supply drive,” he said.
DeLattiboudere, who is working on a masters degree in youth development leadership, organized the best time to do the drive with the help of head coach P.J. Fleck. “It’s going to be wonderful,” DeLattiboudere said. “I’m really excited.”
He has played in all 38 games for Minnesota over the past three seasons, with a combined 53 total tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and 11 1/2 tackles for lost yards.
“To be impactful where I need to be impactful,” he said of his football goals for 2019. “I feel like a lot of guys strive to make plays instead of settling into their role and being sturdy in their role.”
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, DeLattiboudere doesn’t have prototypical size or speed, so he relies on being in the right spot and playing hard. He has made some big plays so far in preseason camp.
“A lot of guys are like, ‘I need to be the guy to make this play,’ It’s like, ‘No, the play will come to you and you have to continuously do your job.’”
There are a lot of similarities between DeLattiboudere’s way on and off the field.