RICHMOND — As the rain began to pour down during the Redskins’ afternoon practice on Wednesday, DeMatha High football coach Elijah Brooks briefly toyed with the thought of taking cover and heading back home to Maryland. But with his team slated to begin fall practice on Thursday and the opportunity to glean strategy from a veteran coach like Mike Shanahan at his disposal, Brooks stood pat on the soggy sidelines.
“I was just trying to prepare myself for our own camp because there’s going to be rain and we’ll still need to practice, so what do you think my players would say if I didn’t stay there?” Brooks said with a laugh. “But seriously, I did want to see a pro team practice up close and see how they did things at that level.”
Wednesday proved to be an educating day on several fronts for Brooks and about 250 other high school football coaches, as the group took part in a clinic put together by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and USA Football. Coaches from as far west as Ohio and as far south as North Carolina came in for the event, which was spawned from a high school coaches clinic in which Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen had previously participated.
“Bruce’s feeling is that the most important person for a young man is their coach in high school,” said Jane Rodgers, the executive director of the Redskins Charitable Foundation. “He goes to the (NFL) combine and he has conversations with these athletes coming out of college and they talk about their high school football coach. So from his perspective, if we can help train coaches on leading young men, then we can really change lives.”
The day began with a two-hour seminar at the Science Museum of Virginia, where the coaches were educated on concussion awareness and physical therapy by doctors from Bon Secours and Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers. Along with Allen and Shanahan, former Redskin LaVar Arrington was also in attendance, talking about his role with the Heads Up program in correctly preventing and rehabbing from concussions.
Afterwards, about 75 of the coaches who were willing to brave the rain headed over to watch the Redskins afternoon practice. Afterwards, Shanahan and Robert Griffin III delivered a brief message to the group.
“Coach Shanahan just told us how one of the most important guys in his life was his high school coach and because of that, we needed to keep working hard at our craft and make a positive impact on our players,” said Brooks, who had never before attended a Redskins practice. “I also got a chance to talk with [cornerback] Josh Wilson, who is a DeMatha alum, so it was a great day.”
“All of the coaches were so appreciative and that’s really what the charitable foundation is about,” Rodgers said. “It’s about working to help young people across our market do better, and what better way to do that than through their high school coaches.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.
● John Keim’s final post for The Insider, on Perry Riley, comes Thursday morning. Mike Jones’s observations from the afternoon practice post this evening.
● Thursday’s practices are at 10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. If you’re headed to Richmond, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.
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