The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation hosted a successful Moms Football Safety Clinic at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center this week.
Roughly one hundred local mothers participated in the third annual Moms Football Safety Clinic presented by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va. on Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, August 4, more than 100 moms from the Richmond area were invited out to the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Facility for the 2016 Redskins Moms Football Safety Clinic.
The event included a Q&A with former Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey on his experience both playing and raising a football player, equipment demonstrations by Dick's Sporting Goods, and Heads Up Tackling training led by USA Football former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley. Lunched was provided to all attendees, courtesy of Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Redskins President Bruce Allen and cornerback Josh Norman opened the event with a thank you to the mothers in attendance for their dedication to a safer future.
"I appreciate each and every one of you guys," Norman said. "When I (was growing up), they definitely didn't have this."
After President Allen's remarks, Harvey engaged the crowd with an entertaining, interactive and informative discussion on football safety while also describing football as another avenue to educate young men. Harvey explained how football teaches the importance of working as a group, gives the self-awareness to accept constructive criticism, and reinforces that there is no substitute for hard work.
"I think people can understand you can take the positives from sports, but you have to learn how to transfer them into the business world so it's the same thing on the football field," Harvey said. "You're going to have your wins and you're going to have your losses. That's the same thing in life. You're going to have a business and you may be successful but you may have a bad week or a bad month. The most successful people are the ones who work extremely hard at their craft...The same thing goes for business and life beyond sports. You gotta work extremely hard and whatever skill set you have you got to understand your skill set."
Many of the mothers in attendance were concerned about head injuries, especially at a young age. Harvey said it is up to the parents to balance the risks because they know their children best, but reassured them that the attitude toward head injuries in football has radically changed from even two or three decades ago. Nothing protects a child more than a good coach, and today coaches at all levels of football are now significantly more focused on making sure a player is 100% healthy before sending them back onto the field.
"It was really great to hear the perspective of Ken Harvey, and a little bit of education goes a long way," said Katy Henderson, a mother in attendance from Williamsburg, Va., whose 8-year-old son plays football. "Just hearing about the differences between what football looked like years ago versus the technology and just how much smarter we're getting with the way we teach players, but also about the values that football instills."
Kristan Curtis, a counselor at Oakville Elementary School in St Mary's County, Md., came to the clinic to learn how teachers can help student-athletes succeed in the classroom.
"I like hearing the fact that players emphasize academics and how important it is, not only because you're playing a sport but because you're a student athlete and student comes first," Curtis said. "And the fact [on] injuries, we have a lot of kids where if they're injured they're at home and those kids are missing school work, so for us we are trying to figure out how we can help those kids stay on course when they come back."
Equipment experts from Dick's Sporting Goods followed Harvey and demonstrated how helmets, mouth guards, shoulder pads and cleats all work together to keep an athlete's body safe – from the posture that keep the spine straight to the helmet shells that absorb concussive impacts.
"The way we lay out the event is to not only get [moms] excited about the sport, but to make sure they're learning how to put on equipment properly, which is so important for a safe sport," said Jane Rodgers, Executive Director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
After the equipment discussion, the mothers headed out onto the practice field to learn proper athletic stances, how to wrap up and engaged in tackling drills with Cooley and USA Football Master Trainers Kevin Lynott and Donald Davis.
Monisha Crosby, who was born and raised in Richmond, Va. and has two twin 6-year-old boys playing football, was the star of the skill drills, annihilating tackling dummies and encouraging other attendees. A diehard Redskins fan and a member of the Women of Washington, Crosby loved that the event empowered her to better understand how to pre-emptively help her children.
"It allows you as a mom to see ahead, to be able to teach them," Crosby said. "If they're exposed to the heat, pull them back. Not feeling well? Make sure they're hydrated. It definitely gives you a better overall aspect of how to take care of your babies before they go out and after. This should be mandatory for all moms."
Crosby started the day concerned about the health effects of football, but was relieved to learn how proper equipment and experienced coaching can play important preventative roles. After participating in the drills, she felt that she was better prepared to step in her boys' shoes when giving important advice like seeing what you hit.
Cooley did his fair share of joking while instructing, but he was dead serious about the wide ranging effects safety clinics can have on the future of the sport.
"I think it's incredible that the Redskins are reaching out to moms and the NFL is reaching out to moms, not just because they want to grow the brand of the NFL, not just because they want to grow the brand of football, but because they truly want kids to be safe and they truly want moms to know their kids can be safe playing the game, and they want these young people to have the opportunity to develop through athletics," Cooley said.
"For the future of kids, I think it's important for moms to be involved," Cooley said. "My mom supported me in everything I did, and I think great success comes from confidence at an early age and truly, moms and dads instill that. Having your family involved is extremely important."
The grassroots efforts in player safety are a testament to people across the country who battled to bring awareness to the issues, and as the moms huddled up at the conclusion of the event, master trainers Kevin Lynott and Donald Davis thanked the moms for being on the front lines of their children's futures.
"You guys are the decision makers," Lynott said. "I'll tell you every great football player that I've ever coached has a great mom behind them."
Davis ended on the perfect reminder to reinforce what football offers.
"Don't underestimate what this game can give to your children," Davis said. "The discipline, teamwork, and the understanding that there is a cause bigger and greater than their own wants and needs. Those things will make them better fathers, those things will make them better husbands, I promise you that. So don't underestimate what this game can give to them. Not just the football end of it, scholarships, NFL and all that stuff, just learning the lessons that are part of this game are huge in the life of a young person."