By Mike Stancik
Special to Viva Loudoun
Ashburn (Oct. 31, 2013) – There were touchdowns being scored at Redskins Park on Tuesday afternoon. However, it wasn’t the Washington players that were finding the end zone to celebrate.
Zdeno Maravilla, an eighth grader at Fred Lynn middle school in Woodbridge, was one of many students that caught a touchdown from a Washington player during the Redskins and Coca-Cola Youth Flag Football clinic.
“I’ll always remember this day, the players have been really nice,” Maravilla said. “It’s a privilege to be out here. I was really excited because I never have gotten to meet professional players. And I got a touchdown and interception, so it was awesome!”
Maravilla was just one of many middle school students that enjoyed a memorable day in Ashburn, as students from Fred Lynn, Eastern (Silver Springs, MD), Harper Park, and Sousa (DC) Middle School all got a chance to meet their NFL idols. Redskins Josh Wilson, Darrel Young, Alfred Morris, and DeAngelo Hall played quarterback during several flag football games.
Fullback Darrel Young, who is actually the Washington emergency quarterback, was visibly happy to interact with the students.
“I’m just a big kid, so I really enjoy this stuff,” Young explained. “Just have fun and laugh with the kids, that’s what it’s all about.
The clinic, designed to focus on promoting proper football technique, good nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at an early age, featured the best-behaved and strongest academic kids from each middle school.
“They were so excited, and the rest of the kids at school are very jealous,” diehard football fan Kiri Trotto said, a 7th grade teacher at Fred Lynn. “I feel like many students at our school would never normally have these opportunities, and things like this get them really excited. So for them to actually interact with people who are successful in those things that they love, they are so motivated. We always try to pick students who exhibit good behavior and have good academics just to help show the kids who might not be doing the right thing if they stay in school and work hard good things will happen.”
However, it wasn’t just the kids that had a good time inside the bubble at Redskins Park. Even though Tuesday is the off-day for Washington players, running back Alfred Morris enjoys having an impact on the community and has been active in many charity events this season.
“It definitely bring you joy just to see their faces light up and get excited like that,” Morris said. “It makes it all worthwhile, sacrificing your off day to come out here and give back. We see these kids and see how it affects them, it’s all worth it.”
Maravilla especially noticed how much players were interacting with students, saying “it just seems like they know us already and they’re having as much fun out there as we are.”
While most Washington players prefer to enjoy their days off amidst a grueling season, players such as Wilson, Young, Morris, and wide receiver Josh Morgan (not in attendance) have made it a priority this season to be involved. Young believes the bond formed by the players during these type of events will only help the Redskins along the way.
“Honestly, it wasn’t planned,” Young said regarding the decision made by the group of players that help out almost every Tuesday. “I wanted to get more involved in the community, this is something I enjoy doing. Half the time, I’d just be sitting at home on our off-day. Both Josh and Alfred are great dudes, it just happens that we go to every event together. That’s the kind of camraderie each of us build with each other and we sort of form this bond when we come out here together on Tuesday’s. We just try to transfer that over to the field in terms of playing together. That’s what guys do when teams are successful, the guys are close. You look at all the teams that win championships, they are a family.”