Tough-love approach helps local coach shape lives - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Tough-love approach helps local coach shape lives

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(KFVS) -

George Foster is a football drill sergeant. 

"He's very intense," said parent Shaneka Bird.

"He's tough, but you'll get through the year with him," said 6th-grader Keshawn Sanders of Morley. 

"Anyone that knows me, I'm emotional when it comes to the sport of football," Foster said.

That emotion pours onto his 3rd-through-6th grade troops, making Foster's football camp seem more like boot camp at times. 

His tough-love approach has a purpose. 

"I do this to get the best out of kids," Foster said. "It's more than football, everyone knows I love football, but we're building something."

The building-blocks started for the 57-year-old Foster while growing up a self-described knucklehead in East St. Louis.

"My dad was a single dad, so I was a little sneaky, I would get in trouble."

Then a local boxing club owner named Pop Miles changed Foster's life.

"He kept me out of trouble, he taught me to box, he paid from paid day on, every sport that I wanted to do," Foster recalled.

At 18, Foster went off to the military serving 10 years in the Air Force. 

When he returned, Miles helped him find his calling.

"Before he passed on I promised him I would continue to give back to the kids, and that's a promise I'm gonna keep."

Now in his 30th year coaching youth football in southeast Missouri, Foster has held true to his word.

His influence spans generations. 

"I owe my life to coach Foster," acknowledged Mean Machine assistant football coach Michael Mac McConnell.

When McConnell was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, he lost his job, and his will to live.

"I was in such a deep state of depression that thoughts of suicide crossed my mind."

It was then he ran into his old football coach, who after 25 years, still remembered his name. 

McConnell wanted to help, and last year Foster brought him on board as an assistant.

"Foster's a man of a different breed. God broke the mold when they made him," McConnell said.

"All he needed, was the same thing that I needed, you needed to belong to something," Foster said.

Foster never knows where he'll find the next success story.

That's why he never turns anyone away, offering his camp for free.

"I'm a single parent, so it helps out a lot," said Cindy Bonney, whose 11-year-old son Carl Williams participates in the camp.

"This is my reason for being here, for these kids, to give these kids an avenue, and hopefully they turn out to be something, and then I'm happy," Foster said.

And with his tough love, Foster is making a lot of others happy, too.

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