Nate Lussier has yet to attend a class on campus or step on a football field at Brown University, but the Bears’ freshman and former La Salle star quarterback has no doubt that he has made the right collegiate choice.
The prestigious Ivy League school’s academic and football programs weren’t the only aspects that attracted Lussier, the former three-time All-Division and All-Academic selection.
“The Providence area is where I grew up and where I live,” said Lussier. “I wanted to be able to give back and try to make an impact on my community, the community I grew up in. That was a big reason I chose to attend Brown.”
Brown football seniors Ryan Putman and Nate Brown have taken the steps necessary to make it possible for Lussier – and the rest of their teammates – to make an impact on their community.
Putman and Brown, teammates and roommates who both hail from the Bible Belt, are the founders of LEAD WITH LOVE, a newly established program focused on eradicating hatred by spreading positivity and love.
“I was really scared following the events from the summer outpour of inclusion and hate in the county,” said Putman, a defensive end who is majoring in economics. “I care about the guys on this team. I want them to be educated and be loving. I called Nate and said, ‘How can we help people stop being so mean to each other?’”
Football became their vehicle.
“This world is like a giant locker room,” said Putman. “In our locker room there are so many different shades, there are so many different stories, so many different angles and views on life, but the one thing that brings us together is love of the game. And in this world one thing brings us together is that we’re all human. We all love, we all laugh and we all cry.
I wanted to find ways to help our team be better men. That’s what this is all about. Love comes in many forms, but it’s all the same – respecting each other, caring about one another. Nate and I knew we HAD to do something. We wanted to put together a program that focused on making a commitment to love each other and make our community around us and space we share a better place.”
“The events of this summer…the impact of covid, the illumination of social issues were at the forefront again…all the unrest,” said Brown. “Everyone wants to do something to help. Being a part of the Brown football program with Coach (James) Perry’s support gave us the opportunity”
Yo a lot of suicides in the news lately. If any of you need to talk about ANTHING i got you! I love each and every last one of you and you are stronger than whatever you are going through #LifeisBeautiful
— Ryan Putman (@Putman_42) June 9, 2018
Strongly backed by Perry, assistant coach Willie Edwards and the entire Brown staff, LEAD WITH LOVE was launched in the spring.
Putman and Brown drafted a mission statement and asked their teammates to sign a pledge, emphasizing that their signature couldn’t be just a gesture, something to pad a resume. This must be in your heart. The pledge was signed by every member of the Brown football community.
Lussier was eager to ink his signature.
“As soon as I read about the program I knew I HAD to get involved and be a part of it,” said Lussier.
Love’s always been a big part of my life. That’s how my parents raised me. I knew LEAD WITH LOVE was a great program to get involved with. I want to give back to the community and this gave me the opportunity. I give so much credit to Coach Perry, Coach Edwards and Ryan (Putman) and Nate (Brown). They are amazing. I am crazy excited to see where this program goes.”
Brown and Putman’s plan is for members of the team to spread love and support into the underserved communities.
“As athletes, I want to use our common thread to bring us together and want kids to know we care about them,” said Brown. “We want to make sure we are doing our part to help the next generation, the next wave of kids experience love in their hearts and give strength to keep pushing.”
“It’s our first step. We want to build a foundation, a tangible program that continues long after we graduate from Brown,” said Putman. “We have resources and connections that come with being at Brown. We live in a community that could use help. We want to go into the community and support those who are doing the work and come up with ways that help others.”
Covid-19 is preventing the Bears from physical interaction, but with the assistance of Edwards, who serves as LEAD WITH LOVE’s Advisor, the program has already begun to make an impact. Recently, LEAD WITH LOVE partnered with Tides Family Services, a not-for-profit social services agency focusing on addressing the needs of children at risk. The Brown football players held a virtual Meet the Bears for the Tides’ youth.
“It was awesome to see these kids smile,” said Lussier. “It’s all about interaction with the kids. Being a college football player gives us the ability to make a difference. When you talk to a young kid and they can see themself in your shoes later in life, it makes an impact…especially if you know you inspire them….even just one kid out of a million it makes a difference.”
LEAD WITH LOVE has cemented Lussier’s passion for Brown. It goes far beyond football.
“Some people out there are scared out there,’ said Lussier. “If we can find a way to make an impact on the next generation coming up and show them that you can have a brighter future and stop the hate and lead with love, we can make a difference in the world.”