Students representing multiple school districts in the area visited Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va. to play flag football with Redskins players, while learning the importance of being healthy by eating well and staying active.*
While the players had a day off after the win over the Vikings, football was still being played Monday morning at Redskins Parkas the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation hosted students for the Redskins Flag Football Experience.
100 middle school students were invited to Redskins Park for an afternoon of learning the fundamentals of flag football and playing games with Redskins players serving as honorary quarterbacks.
The event, featuring middle school students from Prince George’s County, Loudoun County, Fairfax County and the District of Columbia, offered students the opportunity to not only talk about healthy lifestyles and proper fitness, but provided them with the knowledge needed to adapt these skills and lessons back at school and at home.
The day began with former Redskins player Doug Williams welcoming students, before they were led in warmups by an official from the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association (NVFOA). The schools then broke into eight different teams, playing four games at a time, , with an extra special addition to each unit.
Each student team had a Redskins player join their roster at quarterback including quarterback Colt McCoy, wide receivers Rob Kelley and Ryan Grant, cornerback Jonathan Allen, linebacker Houston Bates, safety Lee Hightower and defensive lineman Joey Mbu.
For the Redskins, getting the chance to play football with the students and get them moving was a great opportunity to show them what it takes to stay healthy, while also having some fun.
“I enjoy coming out [to these events],” McCoy said. “These kids are having a blast playing some 7-on-7 flag football. … It’s cool for them to see where we practice, where we work out. They’ll go have lunch in the same place we have lunch and just to spend some time with them this morning is a pretty cool thing.”
Even players who don’t usually have the chance to play quarterback made sure to have some fun with the games and got competitive with their fellow players and the students.
“The Play 60 [program] does a great job of getting the kids out and being active [and] eating right,” Bates said. “It’s just good to see the kids bring energy; it gets us excited to hang out with them. The competiveness came out a little, playing Colt, the gunslinger and Grant. . I’m not lobbying for anything, but I did throw some touchdowns, I threw some picks, but I threw more touchdowns than picks.”
While the Redskins may not be looking to their linebackers to play quarterback anytime soon, the games were high scoring and featured a lot of exciting plays, giving everyone the opportunity to show off their skills.
“It’s fun for me because [the students are] just happy to be out there and I know I’m happy to be out there with them because they love to play football,” Garçon said. “They were showing off their talents, they were happy to show off their skills. That made me enjoy it even more because they were ready to show me how fast they can run and how good they can catch.”
Following the games, the students attended a panel discussion about how to eat healthier and improve their lifestyles. Joining Fuller and McCoy to talk to the students were assistant strength and conditioning coach Jake Sankal and Executive Chef of the Washington Redskins, Chef Jon Mathieson. The panelists talked about how important it was for children to eat healthy and in moderation, while also remembering to take care of their bodies by getting plenty of sleep and exercising. Students also got tips on healthy, good snacks to eat after school.
“Food is the raw material your body needs to grow. So if we’re not giving ourselves the right food, if we’re not eating the right things, it’s going to be a lot harder for our bodies to grow properly,” Sankal said to the students when discussing the importance of eating healthy foods. “We all want to be strong. We all want to be good athletes. Even if you don’t play sports or even later on in your life if you don’t play sports, we all want to be healthy.”
The day ended with a healthy and delicious meal prepared by Mathieson and his team, which the students ate in the team dining room.
“A lot of our kids have been (Redskins) fans since they were born,” Key Middle School Assistant Principal Drew Campbell said. “This is a once in a lifetime experience today. They love these players and they watch them every weekend and it means a lot. It means the world.”