Football Players and Elementary Students Find Balance Between Work and Play

Nov. 20, 2009


WASHINGTON - Defining the success of a team by its record is a simple thing to do. It requires just the study of two columns marked "wins" and "losses". Examining anything beyond those two columns would seemingly be like trying to reinvent the proverbial wheel.

The Georgetown University football team enters the last game of its season on Saturday against Fordham. At 0-10, the possibility of finishing the season without a victory is a very real one, something that does not shout success at even the most optimistic of fans. But what took place at the Multi-Sport Field on Thursday afternoon and throughout the season could be a cause to reconsider how success is defined.

Running backs coach Dassin Blackwell, Jack the Bulldog and five members of the football team, including senior linebacker Jon Cassidy, sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Kayal, junior defensive lineman Daniel Lenihan, senior offensive lineman Daniel Matheny and sophomore wide receiver John O'Leary spent their Thursday afternoon with special needs students from John Tyler Elementary School in southeast Washington, D.C.

"I believe that our athletes becoming a major part of the community is important," Blackwell said. "Life experiences and life changing moments are forged through athletics and academics in our profession. As coaches, student-athletes and administrators we have a responsibility to engage with the community, to share what we have learned so others may have the opportunity to reach out to those who may not have the same opportunities."



Thursday morning for the football team was business as usual, as they practiced in preparation for its final game. But even after a tough morning practice the Georgetown student-athletes seemed energized by the high spirits of the children.

"We got to play and be like kids again," said Cassidy, a player who has been at the forefront of many of Georgetown football's community efforts. "[Being involved in the community] is not only a big part of what we have done as a football team, but what Georgetown stands for. We all realize that we have been lucky enough to be at a great institution like Georgetown and part of that is sharing it with the community."

Throughout the 2009 season, students from Tyler Elementary have been special guests of the Georgetown football, sitting in the stands behind the Hoyas' bench at each home game. Not only have the Saturday's at Multi-Sport Field given have given the kids an opportunity to speak to their new favorite players, but more importantly to learn about reading and numbers in a fun, interactive way.

"One of our students learned more about reading numbers in one half of a game, than being taught in the classroom in a week," commented Sarah Craft, a John Tyler Elementary School teacher.

On Thursday, the Hoyas' players talked to the kids about school and football, but more than anything else it was a chance for both groups to run around and play. From testing out the walkie-talkies in the training room to putting the kids into shoulder pads, jerseys and helmets and running around on the field with a football, it was an experience that helped put things in perspective for everyone involved.

"For me, it made my day," Matheny said. "Being in a position to make a kids' day and put a smile on their face, especially after all the support they've given us through the season is one of the most fun parts about being a college football player."

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