- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
How often do you get to meet and greet legendary professional athletes?
For many, it’s rare and some a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
On Saturday at Hallowing Point Park in Prince Frederick, local children, along with their families and friends, experienced that feeling when they got to meet and greet four former Washington Redskins at the Gridiron Legacy NFL Legend and Super Bowl Champions Youth Football Clinic.
Gary Clark, the two-time Super Bowl champion for the Redskins and founder of Gridiron Legacy, teamed up with three other former Redskins in Ed Simmons, Ravin Caldwell and Clarence Vaughn, also two-time Super Bowl winners.
John Booty, who played for five NFL teams, also was on hand with the former Redskins bunch.
The family-friendly clinic was designed to teach each player attending, as well as the parents, the individual techniques, football drills, fitness drills and position-specific trade secrets necessary for players to compete at the highest level at their chosen position.
The Gridiron Legacy is committed to fighting childhood obesity and encouraging youth sports and health.
For every child and parent who arrived Saturday, Clark knew that they were going to get an NFL-style workout.
“When we have this clinic, it’s all about family,” Clark said. “Many parents don’t even realize how well the kids are motivated to get better at the sport when they are there supporting them on the sidelines.”
Clark, who attended Pulaski County High School in Dublin, Va., said that while growing up his late father used to throw the football to him on the sidewalk when he was 4-years-old.
“My dad always kept a football in my hand and towards the end of my career he threw the football to me on the same sidewalk,” the former wide receiver said. “I will always miss him and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to stay around football. That’s why it’s important to get the parents involved.”
Booty has been doing football camps with Clark for about two years.
“We want to teach these kids to learn the game of football and have the proper nutrition,” said Booty, who wore a hat of one of his former teams, the Philadelphia Eagles. “We love the youth and we want to give them the opportunity that we had growing up.”
The clinic, which had children 7 to 12, was sponsored by Bernie Alvey of EXIT Landmark Realty, Samantha Bowie of WestStar Mortgage and Leigh Hewartson of Pride Settlement, who all paid the full tuition for the youth’s participation in the clinic.
“Today, the kids learned things they never would have the opportunity to learn at another football camp because of the access and expert football knowledge that they received,” Alvey said. “Gary and the other Redskins teach them the right way to play football and also life lessons. The key is keeping these kids active and away from the couch or video games. Fighting childhood obesity is very important.”
After the conclusion to the camp, Clark and the former Redskins stay in contact with the children and their parents on a 52-week NFL Players Skill and Workout Program.
“We are all retired and now we are giving back to the community,” said Simmons, who was an 11-year NFL offensive lineman.
Members from the Huntingtown Hurricanes youth football program were in attendance, including 12-year-old Conor Bittner who was not only happy to get instruction from the best through drills, but got his Gary Clark football card autographed by Clark himself.
“He taught us a lot of speed and agility and how to run routes at the wide receiver position,” said Bittner, whose the younger brother of 2011 Huntingtown High School graduate Justin Bittner. “It was hot today, but the camp was really fun I learned a lot of things that I will use forever.”