They gained as athletes, then moved on to success in politics.

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The marketing campaign industrial started with youth soccer gamers going by way of a apply.

“Out right here, exhausting work molds you,” says Aaron Rouse.

The industrial then flashes to Rouse in a Virginia Tech soccer uniform celebrating an enormous play, after which to him intercepting Corridor of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and returning it 99 yards for a landing.

“It’s what took me to Virginia Tech and the NFL,” Rouse says over the highlights of his school and NFL careers.

“Then I introduced the teachings from the sector again residence as a result of Virginia Seashore is price combating for. I began a nonprofit for youths, who grew up like me. Now the work is in Richmond combating for his or her future and what issues most, investing in our colleges, tax aid for households and defending reproductive freedom. I’m Aaron Rouse, lets get to work.”

Earlier this month, Rouse gained Senate District 22 over Republican Kevin Adams within the race for a district that encompasses central elements of Virginia Seashore.

In an interview with The Virginian-Pilot, Rouse mentioned he was feeling “emboldened” following his win.

“Greater than ever, this election signifies the particular election wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a joke,” he mentioned.

In one other interview he mentioned, “It is a Tremendous Bowl win for Democrats. For democracy.”

On the identical night time, throughout city in Chesapeake, incumbent Democrat Cliff Hayes defeated Republican challenger Elijah Colon to symbolize Chesapeake and Portsmouth in Virginia Home District 91.

Hayes celebrated the win with Sen. Louise Lucas — who gained reelection in Senate District 18 — at a victory get together at Rivers On line casino.

“Whether or not within the realm of profitable championships as a participant, teaching children on my athletic groups, or profitable elections, the fun of victory instructions a parade of feelings,” mentioned Hayes, a former Norfolk State baseball participant. “However certainly, there’s a parallel of sports activities and life. That’s: For those who keep targeted, maintain your thoughts fastened, and have religion, you’ll be fruitful.”

Delegate Cliff Hayes Photo by Brandon Eley
Delegate Cliff Hayes celebrating his victory with Senator L. Louise Lucas throughout their victory get together atRivers On line casino on Nov. 7. Photograph by Brandon Eley

Sports activities — and profitable — are themes Rouse and Hayes have used after a profitable transition from athletics to the rough-and-tumble world of politics, they usually’re not alone amongst native former athletes.

Former NFL participant Don Carey, who was elected to Chesapeake Metropolis Council for a four-year time period in 2020, joins Rouse and Hayes in crediting sports activities to assist mildew them into profitable politicians.


Sam Scarborough coached Rouse at First Colonial Excessive in Virginia Seashore, the place he was a two-time All-Tidewater and all-state participant. He additionally lettered in basketball.

Rouse went on to star at Virginia Tech and was a third-round NFL draft decide of the Inexperienced Bay Packers. He additionally performed for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals.

“He was all the time considered one of these children who needed to assist folks. And he noticed that as an avenue for him,” Scarborough mentioned. “However I don’t know if any of us thought that he would have taken it to the stage to the place he’s now. I don’t suppose anyone noticed that coming.”

“Me personally, I don’t actually get into politics, particularly these days with a lot negativity,” added Scarborough. “However that’s not him. He needs to assist everyone. He needs it to work. That’s the sort of folks we’d like in there.”

Marty Miller coached Hayes at Norfolk State, and was the athletic director when Carey starred on the soccer staff. Each males left an enduring impression on Miller.

“Cliff was very aggressive and was considered one of our key gamers through the championship runs that we had through the time when he was right here,” mentioned Miller, who’s the winningest coach in CIAA historical past and led the Spartans to 17 CIAA championships.

When he discovered Hayes was going into politics, he was shocked.

“Once I discovered about his curiosity and the truth that he began profitable these elections, I used to be very elated and happy with him,” Miller mentioned. “He’s carried out some great issues as a consultant as a delegate. And he continues to boost our neighborhood with a number of the issues that he’s doing up in Richmond.”

Don Carey, Chesapeake City Council member
Don Carey, Chesapeake Metropolis Council member

Miller had no thought Carey needed to enter politics till he advised him about his curiosity after he retired from the NFL.

“However I’m not shocked by the success that he’s having, as properly, as a result of athletes who’re aggressive and do properly on the sector of competitors, can do something in life,” he mentioned. “Athletics ready them to achieve success for his or her profession endeavors.”


Rouse, 39, grew up in Virginia Seashore and runs a youth-focused nonprofit group. He served on an at-large seat on the Virginia Seashore Metropolis Council for 4 years earlier than a run for the state senate seat vacated by Republican Jen Kiggans after she was elected to the U.S. Home.

Rouse mentioned he bought into politics to make a distinction, but in addition to point out younger people who they don’t should be well-known to achieve success. He grew up in Younger Park in Norfolk and Friendship Village in Virginia Seashore, each low-income housing areas.

Rouse discovered a robust work ethic from his grandfather and mom. He mentioned in addition they taught him to maintain God first and that your phrase is bond.

Before Aaron Rouse became a Senator, he also played in the NFL. Here he is making a tackle for the New York Giants. He also played with the Green Bay Packers and starred at Virginia Tech.
Earlier than Aaron Rouse grew to become a Senator, he additionally performed within the NFL. Right here he’s making a sort out for the New York Giants. He additionally performed with the Inexperienced Bay Packers and starred at Virginia Tech.

Rouse mentioned sports activities taught him methods to talk, methods to be a pacesetter, methods to react underneath strain and methods to put aside variations. It additionally taught him methods to get up for one thing he strongly believed in.

“That translated into politics as a result of you probably have a problem with a invoice and also you don’t see eye to eye with considered one of your colleagues or somebody throughout the aisle, it’s like, ‘Lets sit down and speak about it, lets have a dialog,’ ” he mentioned. “Lets not get on Twitter and demean one another or take folks’s phrases out of context. I wish to know precisely the place you’re coming from. Assist me perceive and discover that frequent floor. That’s what I discovered from sports activities.”

Abigail Zwerner shakes hands with Sen. Aaron Rouse after being recognized by the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, on April 12, 2023. Zwerner was shot by a 6-year old student on Jan. 6 inside her classroom at Richneck Elementary School. The bullet went through her left hand and struck her in the upper chest and shoulder.

Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot

Abigail Zwerner shakes palms with Sen. Aaron Rouse after being acknowledged by the Senate on the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, on April 12, 2023. Zwerner was shot by a 6-year previous pupil on Jan. 6 inside her classroom at Richneck Elementary College. The bullet went by way of her left hand and struck her within the higher chest and shoulder.


Hayes, 55, has served as a state delegate since 2016. He’s additionally the chief info officer for the town of Portsmouth and served on the Chesapeake Metropolis Council from 2004-12.

Hayes starred at Oscar Smith Excessive in baseball and soccer, and was captain of each groups. He additionally performed basketball and wrestled. He was voted “Finest All Round” and was inducted within the college’s athletic corridor of fame in 2000.

Hayes, an all-district third baseman, additionally bought his style of politics in highschool when he ran and gained as president of the Scholar Council Affiliation. However Hayes didn’t suppose a lot of it on the time.

He earned a baseball scholarship to Norfolk State the place he was one of many staff’s prime gamers. He had aspirations to play professionally, however an harm prevented that.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, center, gestures during a news conference announcing his legislative criminal justice priorities as Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, left, and Del. Cliff Hayes Jr., D-Chesapeake, right, look on in Richmond on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

Steve Helber/AP

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, heart, gestures throughout a information convention asserting his legislative legal justice priorities as Secretary of Public Security Brian Moran, left, and Del. Cliff Hayes Jr., D-Chesapeake, proper, look on in Richmond on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

After school, Hayes bought concerned in the neighborhood in lots of sides, however an invite to Chesapeake Males For Progress that modified his path.

“I used to be round all of those clever African American males who knew a lot about politics, a lot concerning the metropolis and the way the town authorities works,” he mentioned. “There was a lot nice management in there that I simply caught the bug, so to talk.”

He bought his probability when the group steered he run for a seat on Metropolis Council.

Former Chesapeake mayor “Invoice Ward mentioned, ‘You’re a former athlete. You perceive technique. So let’s get collectively and strategize and see what we are able to do,’ ” Hayes remembered. “‘We’ll get behind you and make it easier to, and we’ll see what occurs.’ Lo and behold, they began serving to me and I began to get help. And I messed round and bought elected.”

FILE – Del. C.E. “Cliff” Hayes, D-Chesapeake, addresses members through the flooring session of the Virginia Home of Delegates on the State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Jan. 20, 2022. A latest investigative report supplied to The Related Press has raised questions on whether or not Hayes is assembly the state’s residency requirements for lawmakers. He insists he’s following the regulation. (Bob Brown/Richmond Instances-Dispatch by way of AP, File)

Hayes mentioned he by no means got down to be a politician, however he’s glad he listened to that group of males who bought him began. And although many have handed away, however he’s by no means forgotten them.

“However I carry all of them in my coronary heart in every single place I am going,” he mentioned. “I used to be by no means alone. I all the time have these nice leaders with me, irrespective of the place I am going.”


Carey, 36, has been on the Chesapeake Metropolis Council since 2020. Following his retirement from the NFL, Carey based The Don Carey REECH Basis, Inc., which makes use of sports activities as a catalyst to attach with and educate college students about careers within the Science, Know-how, Engineering and Math fields.

Former Norfolk State star Don Carey celebrates a 2014 touchdown while with the Detroit Tigers. Carey, a Chesapeake City Councilman, will be the inaugural guest on a new live web series called "SportsTalk 757."

Gregory Shamus/Getty Pictures

Former Norfolk State star Don Carey celebrates a 2014 landing whereas with the Detroit Tigers. Carey, a Chesapeake Metropolis Councilman, would be the inaugural visitor on a brand new dwell internet sequence referred to as “SportsTalk 757.”

Carey was a star soccer participant at Booker T. Washington Excessive College after which at Norfolk State, the place he grew to become the primary Spartan participant to be drafted within the Division I period. He was a sixth-round decide of the Cleveland Brown in 2009.

Carey loved a 10-year profession, however no second was greater than in 2016 when the Detroit Lions chosen him as their Walter Payton NFL Man of the Yr.

In contrast to Rouse and Hayes, Carey’s run for political workplace didn’t come as a shock to many. At his retirement get together, former Lions coach Jim Caldwell joked in a video that Carey’s subsequent place can be as a mayor or congressman.

Whereas he was in Detroit, he grew to become lively with the neighborhood, together with on off days he began a STEM program within the interior metropolis.

“I discovered myself doing extra in the neighborhood. I used to be going into the neighborhood and interacting with the residents, with the mother and father and the youngsters, and I favored it,” he mentioned. “I believed once I’m carried out enjoying soccer, what’s one of the simplest ways that I can proceed to be in the neighborhood and help folks and in fixing the issues that they’re coping with? Going into politics was one of the simplest ways to do this.”

Whereas in Detroit, Carey discovered extra about how college boards function and labored with totally different metropolis council members. Caldwell additionally put Carey in contact with former NFL receiver Steve Largent, who was an Oklahoma congressman for eight years. Largent, a member of the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame, helped educate Carey on methods to navigate the political course of and put together for a marketing campaign.

City council member Don Carey III at the Chesapeake City Council meeting at City Hall in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Billy Schuerman / The Virginian-Pilot)
Metropolis council member Don Carey III on the Chesapeake Metropolis Council assembly at Metropolis Corridor in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Billy Schuerman / The Virginian-Pilot)

Carey, who was inducted within the NSU Athletic Corridor of Fame in 2019, returned to Hampton Roads and now sits on numerous boards and participates in a number of organizations to assist the town.

“While you meet somebody randomly they usually say, ‘Hold doing the nice work that you just’re doing. We’d like folks such as you in politics,’” he mentioned. “Moments like that basically makes you’re feeling good and will get you thru a number of the nonsense.”

How lengthy does he suppose he’ll keep in politics?

“I don’t know. So long as I’m capable of be productive, I’ll proceed to hunt workplace,” mentioned Carey, whose time period runs out Dec. 31, 2024. “Once I can sit again and truthfully say, ‘I’m not serving to,’ then I’m carried out. I don’t wish to be a profession politician. I don’t wish to be sitting again 20 or 30 years from now and maintain a seat simply to carry a seat. The rationale why I bought into politics within the first place is I wish to be productive. I wish to be strategic. For me, if I can’t do this, then I want sit my hind elements down someplace.”


Distinguished former athletes who went into politics

Title, Sport (highest stage), Workplace

  • Dave Bing, NBA, Mayor of Detroit
  • Cory Booker, Faculty soccer (Stanford), Mayor of Newark, U.S. Senator (N.J.), ran for president
  • Invoice Bradley, NBA, U.S. Sen. (N.J.), ran for president
  • Jim Bunning, MLB, U.S. Sen. (Ky.)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, Faculty Soccer (Military), President
  • Gerald R. Ford, Faculty soccer (Michigan), President
  • Steve Garvey, MLB, Senate race
  • Kevin Johnson, NBA, Mayor of Sacramento
  • Jack Kemp, NFL, U.S. Rep. (N.Y), ran for president
  • Steve Largent, NFL, U.S. Rep. (Okla.)
  • Tom McMillen, NBA, U.S. Rep. (Md.)
  • Jim Ryun, Olympic runner, U.S. Rep. (Kan.)
  • Manny Pacquiao, Boxer, Philippine Home of Representatives and Senator
  • Alan Web page, NFL, Minnesota. Supreme Court docket
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Olympia, California governor
  • Jesse Ventura, WWE, Minnesota governor
  • Glenn Youngkin, Faculty basketball (Rice), Virginia governor
  • J.C. Watts, CFL and Faculty soccer (Oklahoma), Home of Representatives (Oklahoma)

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449, [email protected]


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