Out of Office: Wayne Middleton

Wayne Middleton with football team
Wayne Middleton passes on life lessons to players of the Des Moines Venom, a youth football club he cofounded.

Wayne Middleton, vice president and manager of the project management office at $5.4 billion-asset Bankers Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, cofounded the Des Moines Venom youth football club to teach life lessons and foster leadership skills in kids.

There are lots of lessons in football that parallel what you go through in life. We want to use that as a way to prepare kids and give them skills they can take anywhere to be successful in life. We try to meet kids where they are at and create a family atmosphere where every kid is treated as important.

We focus on three areas. In the classroom, we expect our athletes to be model students, to befriend kids that are being bullied and to become allies. We encourage them to take pride in where they live and be a good neighbor. Among their peers, we stress not following the crowd and being uniquely them.

It’s very rewarding every day. You interact with the kids, talk to them and ask how their day went. You get to see them grow; we get messages from parents that talk about changes in [their child’s] behavior, and we make sure they are rewarded for that.

I was always taught that wherever you are, that place should get better because you’re there. This is my way of trying to do that. We leave the kids that go through our program with something they can take to the next place they go, and it will get better because they are there. I think it’s a cycle that can repeat itself and have positive results.

Emma Pitzl is an editorial assistant with Independent Banker.