Bennie Fowler, Ford Motor Co.
Keeping students competitive on and off the court
Be prepared, have discipline, stay focused, and be dexterous in handling life situations. These are strategies Bennie FowlerÂ has applied to his 30-year career in the automobile industryâ€“â€“and has shared with more than 4,000 children. Nine years ago, the group vice president of Global Quality at Ford Motor Co., founded the Powerstroke Athletic Club, which evolved from an instructional program with elementary school kids to an after-school youth organization based in Southfield, Michigan, for participants aged 7 to 17.
A former student and semiprofessional athlete, Fowler feels sports are critical to childrenâ€™s development, which motivated him to open the club. The club is supported by fundraisers held twice a year, a minimum fee, and sponsors for children who are unable to pay the fee.
Its mission is to develop positive characteristics and values in youth through hard work, discipline, education, and relationships.Â Fowler has a busy schedule, but still devotes 10 hours a week to teaching track and basketball at the club, relating the lessons of competitive sports to real world challenges and enforcing the importance of balancing athletics and academics.
There are currently several high school sophomores who participate in the club and play on a top-ranked basketball team for the Detroit Country Day School. Fowler predicts one or more of the sophomores will be among the top 10 players in the country within the next two years. â€śTheyâ€™ve demonstrated that they can learn, apply, and be successful at what theyâ€™re doing and itâ€™s carrying over into their lives,â€ť he says.
The club has won three national championships in basketball and is rated as one of the top teams in Michigan. Moreover, the outstanding athletes receive scholarships for college.