By Leo Dassa, Maryland Athletics Media Relations
BALTIMORE, Md. - Student-athletes and staff of the University of Maryland athletic department visited the YMCA in Baltimore Saturday for a fun day of training and lessons with local children.
The event brought together a wide variety of children from the city of Baltimore with an ambition to learn how to improve their skills and sportsmanship in sports.
The Maryland Football team had an outstanding attendance, teaching children throwing and passing drills, and even how to run routes. They wanted to make sure the children enjoyed the experience.
“We wanted to show the kids that football is a team sport,” said freshman football player Jalen Brooks. “We had a couple kids come out here that tried to play by themselves, but as we progressed throughout the day, we were able to show those kids that it is more of team sport. While all of these kids wanted to be competitive, you could easily see friendships were being made throughout the day.”
As children gained knowledge in all sorts of areas in sports, many felt the event served a great purpose.
“My son does not have as much confidence as he should, so he got a lot out of this” April Rufus, a mother of a participant. “When these Terps came out and showed him that he can do it, it opened up the door for him to try to do more sports in the future.”
The Maryland women's tennis team had seminars, which consisted of teaching life skills. These skills included everyday life in college and the experience of being a student-athlete. They expanded upon the importance of having an education.
“I want these children to learn that both education and sports are essential things that will help them become successful in life,” said sophomore women’s tennis player Nataliya Bredikhina. “No matter how much they love sports, they will never get where they want to get without an education.”
The Maryland wrestlers taught fundamentals of wrestling. They explained stretching was the key to avoiding injuries.
“You need to get a good warm up in before you get into wrestling,” said junior wrestler Geoffrey Alexander. “That is how injuries occur and is why we have the jump ropes today. We’re going to get them a little warmed up and sweating.”
The event provided students with an opportunity to work with children and teach them skills that partake in their everyday life.
“It was a great opportunity to come out and work with the kids in the YMCA,” said sophomore goalie on the men’s soccer team, Cody Niedermeier. “We started off with drills and then worked it into a game to make sure the kids also had fun.”
Rebecca Winslow, Director of sports at the YMCA, helped organize the event and believed these children left with a lot more than they came in with.
“For the community, it’s a great opportunity for kids to get exposure in sports they might not usually try,” Winslow said. “Our focus here is to create a passion and joy for wellness, and sports are a big part of that. Because athletic programs are limited in school, the exposure was great and we cannot thank these Terps enough.”