Growing up in Pittsburgh, there was hardly a day that would pass without hearing about the Steelers and in particular, Hines Ward. The city adores #86. His loyal sports fans even tuned in weekly to watch him compete on Dancing with the Stars and flooded the downtown streets waving terrible towels when he took home the Mirror Ball Trophy. The Steelers wide receiver is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and earned the coveted MVP title in Super Bowl XL. On and off the football field, Ward tackles every task with alacrity, and his energy is contagious.  I had the chance to ask him a few questions and wanted to share with OYL readers:

A: Did training for Dancing with the Stars challenge you in a different way than training for football? If so, how?

H: Training for Dancing with the Stars was a challenge for me because I wasn’t a good dancer. I wouldn’t even go to school dances to avoid embarrassment. The focus, physicality and agility that I use in professional football had to be applied in a totally new venue but this experience allowed me to adapt and excel. I was determined to succeed and Kym (Johnson) was an excellent partner and teacher.

A: What is your diet like during Steelers’ season? Do you incorporate any organic food?

H: During preseason and during football season, I am more strict than during the off-season. I eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and good protein sources. I try to eat organically but being on the road and eating out sometimes makes that difficult.

A:Do you take any vitamins on a daily routine?

H: I take fish oil and my doctor just recently told me to add vitamin D to my regimen.

A: You are successful in so many areas that extend beyond the NFL, what motivates you to perpetually challenge yourself and not to settle into one area?

H: I am a person who wants to excel at everything I do. God has blessed me; and my mom has made many sacrifices to raise me to be the best I can be. These are great motivating factors for me and I use the same approach for other opportunities that arise. I’m committed to be a good example to my kids and all my fans.

A: With today’s economy and widespread layoffs, it is not by choice that many people enter new fields. What advice would you give on how to keep a strong mind when re-inventing careers?

H: People should not be afraid to seek new career choices when things don’t workout. But there is no substitute for preparation and hard work to be successful whether it’s in football or challenges in life. Believe in yourself, stay focused and look for opportunities that suit you as an individual- then go for it.

The NFL player started the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation in the U.S. and Seoul, South Korea where he was born. The non-profit organization seeks to improve literacy and aid children with opportunities to succeed. For more information on how to become involved, please visit Hines Ward’s Helping Hands Foundation

Interview by Antoniette Costa for First published on January 29th 2012, updated in 2019