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Bill Belichick starts charitable foundation

The coach’s foundation honors the memory of his father, Steve.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The coach’s foundation honors the memory of his father, Steve.

As the NFL’s New England Patriots gear up for the new season, Bill Belichick is looking forward to making some big decisions that won’t show up in the win-loss column.

When he’s not working on X’s and O’s, Belichick and his family will award high school seniors scholarships to college, give youth sports organizations a financial boost, and lay the groundwork to hold lacrosse and football clinics for young players.

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“We really want to give back,” Belichick said in a telephone interview.

The 62-year-old, hoodie-wearing head coach, who isn’t known for being all that warm and fuzzy in the public eye, quietly launched a charitable foundation late last year. Now he’s getting out the word about the Bill Belichick Foundation’s inaugural “Hall of Fame Huddle,” to take place Wednesday evening at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

For $500 a ticket, nearly 300 guests can attend a panel discussion featuring former Patriot Scott Zolak and Patriot Hall of Famers Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown. Together, they’ll discuss some of their most memorable plays and provide behind-the-scenes views of what happened on the football field.

Zolak will emcee and Belichick will serve as moderator. Proceeds from the event will benefit the foundation’s scholarship program.

The nonprofit organization, which is based in Walpole, was created in memory of Belichick’s late father, Steve, who was also a longtime football coach. Its mission is to help local student-athletes and organizations, with a special focus on football and lacrosse, two sports that Belichick played at Phillips Academy in Andover (class of 1971) and at Wesleyan University. Belichick’s girlfriend, Linda Holliday, is the executive director.

The foundation’s logo features the silhouette of the headset that Belichick wears when he’s standing on the sidelines.

It’s a busy time of year for Belichick. Training camp is in full swing, and the Patriots will play their second home preseason game on Friday, against the Carolina Panthers.

Last week, just after 5 p.m. Monday, after the Patriots had wrapped up practice at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Belichick called a Globe reporter to talk about this week’s “Huddle.”

When asked how the practice went, Belichick gave a response familiar to anyone who has seen him on the podium: “We’re getting better. We’re grinding out. We’re getting there.”

But when the topic turned to his foundation, the coach’s tone went from curt and professional to warm and friendly — at times almost chatty. More than once, he thanked the reporter for interviewing him about the event.

“Two main things we’re helping are youth football and lacrosse,” said Belichick. “We’re definitely working on the lacrosse end of it.”

The foundation hopes in the future to hold lacrosse and football clinics, where children and teens can learn from some of the top players and coaches in the sport. Belichick also wants to hold panel discussions to explore topics near and dear to his heart: coaching, teamwork, and leadership.

At Wednesday’s event, Belichick plans to lead an animated discussion with the players.

“We’ll just kinda talk Patriots football, and watch some of the things that happened, talk, and reminisce,” he said. “I was there for all of it. I think I can keep the flow of conversation going.

“There were a lot of great moments,” Belichick said with a fair amount of understatement, given his team’s 13 straight years with a winning record, five Super Bowl appearances, and three NFL titles.

Video clips of highlight-reel-worthy plays will be shown, including Bruschi’s interceptions and Brown’s punt returns and catches.

“We have some great footage,” said Belichick. “We’ll watch some of the plays they were involved in, and we’ll talk about how they were involved in the plays, and how they happened.”

Zolak is looking forward to reviewing the plays with his former colleagues. “We’re going to break some things down, tell some stories. . .  It will feel like we’re in the locker room again,” said the former quarterback, who now cohosts a radio talk show on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Zolak said he was happy to participate, adding with a chuckle: “When Bill asks you to do something, you do it.”

The event and the foundation give the public a glimpse at the man behind the gruff, stern exterior he shows on the field and at press conferences.

His foundation is not his first philanthropic venture; over the years he has helped many causes, including the creation of an annual scholarship for high school student-athletes in his hometown of Annapolis, Md.

Belichick said he wants the “Huddle” to become an annual event, and envisions someday holding panel discussions with stars from other sports.

After the curtain falls on Wednesday’s event, Belichick will turn his attention to the foundation’s grants and scholarships. This fall, it will award $5,000 grants to five school or amateur athletic organizations, and $2,500 scholarships to 10 student-athletes.

All of the scholarship and grant applications are in. Belichick, Holliday, and other foundation representatives will review them over the next few weeks and pick winners around the third week of September.

“They will have more time to focus on the applications after training camp and the inaugural event next Wednesday,” said JoJo Gutfarb, a spokeswoman for the foundation.

Asked if he will personally review the applications, Belichick replied: “Absolutely. The board . . . my family members, we’ll go through the applications.” Those family members are Belichick’s three children, Amanda, Stephen, and Brian.

So between preparation for Patriots games and practices, Belichick will be reading applications and high school seniors’ responses to the essay question: “Describe an academic experience and one athletic experience that you expect to remember for the rest of your life.”

It’s a portion of his busy workdays that the coach is looking forward to. “That’ll be the fun part,” he said.

Tickets for Wednesday’s “Hall of Fame Huddle” can be purchased online at www.bill- belichickfoundation.org.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
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