A Radford University and former Blacksburg High School soccer player will soon put on a new uniform. Garland Smith will travel to Uganda in May as a member of the Peace Corps.
The forward averaged 12 goals a year for three straight seasons at Blacksburg, helping lead the boys team to two 3A state titles. This past year, his final one at RU, he found the back of the net three times.
The Peace Corps, which is a volunteer program run by the U.S. government, has been in existence for more than four decades. The agency estimates that from 1961 to 2015 nearly 220,000 people have joined and served in 140 countries.
The group’s mission has always been to promote world peace and friendship as the volunteers work with others around the globe.
Each participant works abroad for a period of two years in areas of education, agriculture, information technology and the environment with the underlying effort of helping people outside of the U.S. understand our culture and vice versa.
After that two-year service, Smith can ask for second term in the Peace Corps.
He said he is excited about this new adventure that lies ahead of him and got involved because his brother had always wanted to be a part of the Peace Corps.
His brother, Hunter, died suddenly a few years back, so Smith keeps his memory close in everything he does. But, this is not the first time that the former Bruin was in the news for something other than soccer.
Twelve years ago, Smith and his family had the opportunity to move into a new, handicapped-accessible home courtesy of the nationally broadcasted television show, Extreme Makeover. His mother, Carol, suffers from muscular sclerosis and was having trouble moving around their old Blacksburg home.
Smith admits the Peace Corps is one of the biggest challenges in his life so far.
“I want to make a big impact with projects in the small Uganda villages. One of the biggest things I must do is to learn the language and from there, I will do several side projects even helping local farmers,” he said.
Smith might even get a chance to share his soccer experience with youngsters and other while in the African country.
“I think what will help me a lot is the fact we had several international players on the (Radford University) team so I got a glimpse into others around the world,” he said.
Smith is majoring in business finance while at Radford University.