2nd & 7 Pairs Athlete Role Models with Second Graders to Prioritize Reading
Football teams often have their Hog Mollie players as a way to advance on the field. The 2nd & 7 Foundation allows children to push forward to their futures with Hog Mollies, too. When our partner 2nd & 7 began publishing in 2007, they started with their Hog Mollies book series—now available on BookSmart. What began as a term for offensive linemen soon became a collection of stories with meaningful messages for every child.
The Ohio-based foundation encourages second graders to read by providing free books to schools in low-income areas. They also pair students with athlete role models who want to make a positive impact, Executive Director Amy Hoying said. 2nd & 7 has grown to 200 programs in 26 states and has given away nearly 750,000 free books to kids since 2009.
Creating the Characters
The name “Hog Mollies” came from 2nd & 7’s founders—Mike Vrabel, Ryan Miller, and Luke Fickell. During their time on the Ohio State football team, their coach introduced them to the term he used for offensive lineman: Hog Mollies. While the three played, they enjoyed paying it forward and reading to young children. Following their graduation in 1999, Vrabel, Miller, and Fickell started their own football camp. Using the money, they bought books to read to local schools, and the 2nd & 7 “huddle” was born.
For 15 years, Hoying, along with Miller, his sister, and his business partner have created a storyline and theme for the series. The Hog Mollies collection contains 12 books in English and two in Spanish, while the last story of the series will be published in June. Hoying’s neighbor, Jason Tharp, illustrates the adventures of Duke, Sprout, Harley, and Hoppy.
“We came up with Hog Mollies because we didn’t want [the characters] to look like anybody or anything, so that [the books] could apply to every child, and every child could find message