The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Monday teamed up to host "Football Fiesta" at Redskins training camp.
Students from the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce visited the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va for a "Football Fiesta" conducted by the Muñoz Agency.
The Redskins Charitable Foundation worked with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to host a football skills clinic for 75 local students to learn the fundamentals of football.
For many of the children in attendance, this Play 60 Character Camp was their first introduction to organized football. Playing on the same field that the Washington Redskins practice on helped put perspective to the sport and provided an environment that showcased the values and traditions the game of football instills.
"We want to teach them the Play 60 message about living a healthy lifestyle, and also the character component of being men and women of character, is really critically important and probably more important than anything else that we teach them today," said Ryan Betscher, chief operating officer at the Muñoz Agency.
Betscher has instructed youth at every NFL Play 60 Character Camp, over 60 in all, since its inception in 2011. The event began with words of encouragement from Larry Michael, the voice of the Redskins, and professional soccer players from the Richmond Kickers to link the importance of hard work, integrity and trust as imperative in every sport and every aspect of life.
"A lot of the Hispanic community knows soccer more than they know football, so it's a great way to integrate them into the sports, which have so much in common," said Michel Zajur, CEO and founder of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "It's great to be a part of the Redskins camp, be on the field, meet some of the players. Kids remember an experience like that, and I think it really gravitates them to learn more about the sport."
The Football Fiesta included individual drills to learn quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line skills, followed by "Race Base" where the students ran in circles avoiding dodgeballs. The event ends with "Mission Impossible," a team building exercise where students get four pieces of equipment to traverse 15 yards without touching the ground, which builds cooperation, trust and innovative thinking. Over the course of the event, students run up to a mile and a half, keeping their minds and bodies active.
Drills were led by Jamaur Law, Sgt. Jason Miller and Desiree Abrams. Law and Miller played college football together at Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pa. All three are training with Abrams at the NFL Officiating Academy.
"Coming out, being a role model to young children, it's a part of life these days," said Law, a special education teacher in Prince George County, Md. who led the offensive line drills, teaching kids the proper stance, how to explode off of the line of scrimmage and the importance of endurance.
Miller, who served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, led the quarterback drills, teaching the students how to throw spirals. He echoed the importance of keeping kids physically active, mentally stimulated and internally motivated.
"I started here at this level, so it's always fun to be able to turn it around and send it back," he said.
Parents in attendance agreed that the values instilled by the game were pivotal to their children's development.
"I think that all the strengths you get in practice, just from training, will help you in life for any endeavors in the future," said Yadira Carrillo, Director of Hispanic Outreach at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Carrillo, who first experienced football as a teenager cheerleading for a local college football team, was happy her 6-year-old daughter Alexa could participate in the Football Fiesta and be exposed to important values at a young age. Alexa was excited that she made a sweet catch in receiver drills.
It is particularly important for young women to have female role models in sports, said Desiree Abrams, the instructor who led the wide receiver drills. Abrams played college basketball at Florida A&M and won a championship playing for the D.C. Divas of the Women's Football Alliance that ended in a trip to the White House.
"You have all these women who are dedicated to the sport," Abrams said. "They know just as many stats as men do, they want to be just as active, just as committed to the game in all aspects, whether that is officiating, the media, the administration, and even as a player. So it's great that they know they have the opportunity."
Offering those kinds of opportunities is exactly what the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Muñoz Agency set out to do.
"We want to teach them life lessons to be successful no matter what they end up doing," Betscher said.