The Austin Family began as a football family.
Football is what brought them to the East Coast when the Washington Redskins selected Terrence Austin in the 2010 NFL Draft. It has always been his calling, and even though his NFL days are over, the sport is still where he belongs.
But football also helped his family find another purpose. Terrence is now supporting his wife, Nicole, who discovered her true calling during his playing days in Washington.
Today, the Austins are working together to create the PUREST Academy For Kids, which is scheduled to open this December. The academy, to be located near the intersection of Norwalk Boulevard and Centralia Avenue in Lakewood, will be a childcare center that focuses on early childhood, pre-K education. The desire to open this type of facility came from Nicole’s experience working in that environment while her husband was playing for the Redskins. It was then that she had a vision of her perfect career path.
“Growing up, I always had an affinity for being around little children,” she explained. “I knew whatever my profession was, I wanted to work with children. In Virginia I was working as a floater doing different things at an early childhood education program, doing whatever they needed me to do from substitute teaching to administrative duties. I loved it. I loved going to work every day and that’s how I knew for sure that I wanted to work in a program like that.”
Nicole earned her degree in philosophy from UCLA, where Terrence was a star on the football field after his great career at Long Beach Poly. She also completed an extension program at UCLA focusing on early childhood education, and has since become certified to be an academy director.
“I said, ‘I’m all in with you,’ and I took the nose dive,” Terrence said. “And I was there to help her with everything.
Once Terrence’s playing days in the NFL were over in 2013, the Austins returned to Southern California to make the PUREST dream a reality. Terrence couldn’t quite let football go, however, and he is the new offensive coordinator at Marina High School in Huntington Beach.
He originally came in as the wide receivers coach at Marina, but a last-minute change in the coaching staff left him in charge of the offense just about a week before the start of the season.
“I’ve been involved with football all my life and know it so well,” he says. “I can’t just walk away from it so easily.”
Austin works under first-year head coach Jeff Turley, who was one of Terrence’s coaches back at Poly.
“I was going to apply to be a graduate assistant somewhere, but Turley called me and asked me to come out,” Terrence explained. “I was gonna volunteer, but I said, ‘I like this.’ I got attached to it.
“(Coaching is) what I always wanted to do anyway. I knew that’s what I wanted to do while I was in the NFL. I spent a lot of time with the quarterback coach, the offensive coordinator, and in the quarterback meetings. I was actually an emergency quarterback in Washington.”
Away from the football field, Terrence is the treasurer at his wife’s academy, which states its purpose through its name. PUREST stands for “Promoting Uniqueness, Revealing Exceptional Student Talent”, and that’s the approach Nicole plans to take in educating the children.
“Not only did I want a program that would be beneficial for teachers,” she explained, “but I wanted to create a program that would be geared toward the unique capabilities of each child. And if it’s focused around them, they’ll start to love to learn.”
Fundraising efforts are currently underway to build a playground at the school, and because they have been granted 501(c)(3) status, any donations made are tax deductible.
The academy’s flagship fundraising event is the inaugural White Rose Awards, which will, according to the website, “honor individuals that have been influential to the community”.
The event will honor Hollywood stylist Goo-Goo Atkins, pastry chef Brandi Diggs, actor/track athlete James Howell, Covenant Life Church pastors Russell and Keisha Lewis, L.A. event producer Dunnie B. Onasanya, and Another Alternative Praise & Prayer Center pastor LC and First Lady Roxanne Williams.
The date of the event is Oct. 11, to be held in the Long Beach Marriott’s grand ballroom. Tickets are $45 for the red carpet awards ceremony and dinner, and proceeds from the ticket sales will go toward tuition assistance and funding for field trips.
For more information about the academy, to make donations, or to purchase tickets to the White Rose Awards, visit www.purestacademyforkids.orgVIA