Caylin Moore woke up in the middle of the night with an idea.
Moore, a junior transfer quarterback at TCU, had the vision to create an organization composed of TCU athletes that would travel around Fort Worth schools and encourage children to reach their dreams.
Moore said one of his academic advisors encouraged him during his first semester at TCU to create something that would have a positive impact on both his teammates and the community.
“One night, right after the bowl game, the idea of helping the youth and leaving a positive legacy hit me so strongly that I woke up out of my sleep at 3 a.m., and I just put a pen to paper and started writing out the schematics,” said Moore.
He called TCU football teammates Aaron Curry and Michael Carroll that night with his idea. The next morning, he contacted numerous other people to get his organization started.
The organization’s goal stated in their constitution is to: “Inspire the youth to rise above their circumstances, build bridges to success and ultimately spark a change in their communities.”
The constitution also states that the organization has a multifaceted purpose: “We are looking to develop leadership in Student-Athletes at TCU as well as bridge community relations between the athletic program and the surrounding community.”
Moore’s story is unique. From homeless to a Fulbright scholar to a janitor to a TCU football player, he now hopes to encourage kids that were in the same situation as him to chase their dreams.
“Caylin is one of those guys that has an idea and then he makes it happen,” said sophomore TCU wide receiver Michael Carroll.
“As TCU football players, we have such a strong impact on people and the community,” Carroll said. “The young kids now are the future leaders of this world so we decided to use our influence to bring something positive and to spark a change in these kids.”
On Jan. 3, 2016, Moore’s idea became a reality. His official student organization is named SPARK: Strong Players Are Reaching Kids.
SPARK members speak with local youth (elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and community organizations) about the importance of education, reaching back to the community and staying on a path towards success.
SPARK members have already spoken to N.A. Howry Intermediate School, J.D. Hall Learning Center, and Jacquet Middle School in Fort Worth.
There are currently twelve members in the program. Moore said most of the group’s members are football players, but SPARK is open to students who are passionate about inspiring the youth to excel in academics, athletics and those who are “interested in positively sparking a change in their community.”
The program is also open to students who are looking to further develop their leadership and public speaking skills.
Moore said speaking to elementary children has not only influenced the kids, but has strongly affected the TCU athletes.
Rocket Ismail, freshman slot receiver, said when it was his opportunity to talk in front of the students he discussed redefining “cool.”
“Never in my life—like ever, did I think that I would be able to motivate kids of that age… and it’s all because of Caylin,” said Ismail. “I was nervous the night before and Caylin called me and told me to get ready. He said that I could make a difference to these kids… and I did.”
Junior defensive tackle Aaron Curry said when he was growing up in Oklahoma City he was surrounded by drugs and gangs; however, he had good influences in his life that kept him out of danger.
“I like SPARK because I can be the positive influence on these kids, that might not have influential people at home,” said Curry. “It makes me feel better helping these kids and giving them the opportunity that I had.”
Curry added he had a similar experience with a role model football player when he was growing up.
“I remember [Adrian] Peterson from the Oklahoma Sooners coming to talk to our school,” said Curry. “I wanted to be just like him and now I just want to be that light for the kids we talk to.”
And Moore said his experiences with SPARK have helped him realize his dream job.
“Dream job—not the job that would make the most money, not the job that would bring the most fame—but dream job? That’s easy, it would be coaching football for young kids.”