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BlogGlades to the Gridiron

December 7, 2022
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Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

NFL linebacker, Luke Masterson, sports Captains For Clean Water cleats for the Las Vegas Raiders’ My Cause My Cleats campaign

Growing up in Naples, Florida, the water has always been a part of Luke Masterson’s life. The now-professional football player grew up fishing and camping along Florida’s southwest coast. And like most who get the opportunity to experience such an amazing resource on an intimate level, he developed a love for his home waters.

So, it’s only fitting that when he started his rookie season earlier this year with the Las Vegas Raiders, the organization he selected for his participation in the NFL’s week-13 My Cause My Cleats campaign was Captains For Clean Water. This past Sunday—facing the L.A. Chargers—Masterson laced up custom cleats designed for the annual awareness campaign and took the field at his outside linebacker position with a little extra fervor under his feet.

Now living much of the year across the country in Las Vegas, Masterson’s connection to the coastal waters he treasures is stronger than ever, but his passion for those waters started a long time ago. “Growing up in Naples, fishing was basically my life,” he says. “Especially in high school, my buddies and I would go camping all the time on the beach, we would fish in Rookery Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands.”

Masterson’s angling journey started when he was a kid, his father taking him offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. As he got older, his pursuits expanded as his means of exploration also did. From shark fishing off the beach to chunking ladyfish for big snook in Rookery Bay, he and his friends enjoyed everything the area had to offer. “Whatever I could do, I would do—anything from offshore to the backwater to camping on the beach. That’s how we spent our time and had fun.”

Even when he was home from college at Wake Forest, Masterson still chased that adventure in the wilds of southwest Florida. So, when he noticed a couple of fishing guides raising awareness about a water-quality crisis in 2016, he paid attention. He wanted to learn more, and he wanted to do more for his waters. It’s something that stuck with him, even in his studies.

While attending Wake Forest, a red-shirt freshman football season and throw-away Covid football season afforded Masterson an extra academic year. He took advantage of the opportunity by acquiring a Master’s degree in Sustainability, during which he often focused his study and research on the complicated topic of Everglades restoration.

“We took a lot of classes that were just general, environmental law and things like that,” he remembers. “But I did have the opportunity in a few of them to pick a topic to write about. And any time I had the chance to do that, I was looking at something with [Captains For Clean Water], something with Everglades restoration.”

From studying the environmental impacts of nutrient pollution contained in Lake Okeechobee discharges to the environmental benefits of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, Masterson dedicated his graduate work to Florida’s waters every chance he got. “Any time I got a chance to write about what was going on in Florida, I wanted to do that because I was passionate about it and it directly affected my family and I growing up,” he says.

Now in his rookie NFL season, Masterson’s stage has been elevated, and he’s using that as an opportunity to raise awareness for clean water on a grand scale by representing Captains For Clean Water in his My Cause My Cleats campaign. My Cause My Cleats is a “league-wide initiative that allows players to champion causes important to them with custom designed cleats,” says the NFL campaign website.

To raise awareness, players can choose any cause that they are passionate about, from cancer awareness to youth education to community outreach, from local and regional efforts to national causes, like the American Cancer Society. Each player wears custom cleats to represent their cause and the cleats are auctioned off after the game to benefit each cause.

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

Masterson says he chose to represent Captains For Clean Water because, “Growing up in southwest Florida, it’s an organization that’s done a tone of work for water quality and conservation for where I’m from. Love this organization, everything they stand for. Big fan. Looking forward to supporting them a lot more.”

The Raiders beat the Chargers 27-20, a little bonus for the clean-water effort symbolized by the cleats. But the real victory is in the awareness brought to the fight for clean water by the pair of shoes—and the player that stood behind them.

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

NFL linebacker, Luke Masterson, sports Captains For Clean Water cleats for the Las Vegas Raiders’ My Cause My Cleats campaign

Growing up in Naples, Florida, the water has always been a part of Luke Masterson’s life. The now-professional football player grew up fishing and camping along Florida’s southwest coast. And like most who get the opportunity to experience such an amazing resource on an intimate level, he developed a love for his home waters.

So, it’s only fitting that when he started his rookie season earlier this year with the Las Vegas Raiders, the organization he selected for his participation in the NFL’s week-13 My Cause My Cleats campaign was Captains For Clean Water. This past Sunday—facing the L.A. Chargers—Masterson laced up custom cleats designed for the annual awareness campaign and took the field at his outside linebacker position with a little extra fervor under his feet.

Now living much of the year across the country in Las Vegas, Masterson’s connection to the coastal waters he treasures is stronger than ever, but his passion for those waters started a long time ago. “Growing up in Naples, fishing was basically my life,” he says. “Especially in high school, my buddies and I would go camping all the time on the beach, we would fish in Rookery Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands.”

Masterson’s angling journey started when he was a kid, his father taking him offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. As he got older, his pursuits expanded as his means of exploration also did. From shark fishing off the beach to chunking ladyfish for big snook in Rookery Bay, he and his friends enjoyed everything the area had to offer. “Whatever I could do, I would do—anything from offshore to the backwater to camping on the beach. That’s how we spent our time and had fun.”

Even when he was home from college at Wake Forest, Masterson still chased that adventure in the wilds of southwest Florida. So, when he noticed a couple of fishing guides raising awareness about a water-quality crisis in 2016, he paid attention. He wanted to learn more, and he wanted to do more for his waters. It’s something that stuck with him, even in his studies.

While attending Wake Forest, a red-shirt freshman football season and throw-away Covid football season afforded Masterson an extra academic year. He took advantage of the opportunity by acquiring a Master’s degree in Sustainability, during which he often focused his study and research on the complicated topic of Everglades restoration.

“We took a lot of classes that were just general, environmental law and things like that,” he remembers. “But I did have the opportunity in a few of them to pick a topic to write about. And any time I had the chance to do that, I was looking at something with [Captains For Clean Water], something with Everglades restoration.”

From studying the environmental impacts of nutrient pollution contained in Lake Okeechobee discharges to the environmental benefits of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, Masterson dedicated his graduate work to Florida’s waters every chance he got. “Any time I got a chance to write about what was going on in Florida, I wanted to do that because I was passionate about it and it directly affected my family and I growing up,” he says.

Now in his rookie NFL season, Masterson’s stage has been elevated, and he’s using that as an opportunity to raise awareness for clean water on a grand scale by representing Captains For Clean Water in his My Cause My Cleats campaign. My Cause My Cleats is a “league-wide initiative that allows players to champion causes important to them with custom designed cleats,” says the NFL campaign website.

To raise awareness, players can choose any cause that they are passionate about, from cancer awareness to youth education to community outreach, from local and regional efforts to national causes, like the American Cancer Society. Each player wears custom cleats to represent their cause and the cleats are auctioned off after the game to benefit each cause.

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders

Masterson says he chose to represent Captains For Clean Water because, “Growing up in southwest Florida, it’s an organization that’s done a tone of work for water quality and conservation for where I’m from. Love this organization, everything they stand for. Big fan. Looking forward to supporting them a lot more.”

The Raiders beat the Chargers 27-20, a little bonus for the clean-water effort symbolized by the cleats. But the real victory is in the awareness brought to the fight for clean water by the pair of shoes—and the player that stood behind them.