DHS football team reaches out to youth

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Demopolis High School football players utilized their weight training periods Wednesday to visit classrooms at Westside and U.S. Jones elementary schools for a meet and greet, marking the official launch of this year’s mentoring program.

A part of head coach Tom Causey’s character initiative, the program assigns football players to specific elementary school classrooms. The players will spend time in their adopted classrooms at various points throughout the year, putting in face time with younger students as they strive to build character through accountability.

“It really makes us have to do right,” senior center Morgan LeCroy, who also took part in the initiative as a junior, said. “If you look at a little kid, it would mean more with them saying something bad about you than it would our coaches.”

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For some players, the first day of the project was enough to get them thinking about the intended effects.

“It means a lot. It means that I’m in high school and have people looking up to me,” junior A-back Anthony Hardy said. “Coming here and talking to these little kids keeps you accountable because you don’t want to see them doing things you know are wrong. It keeps you accountable as a football player and as a Demopolis citizen.”

Senior kicker Tyler Brooker was one of a handful of players who expressed a degree of surprise upon seeing the way in which the students admire the players.

“You see them look up to you. You didn’t actually think anybody was paying attention to you really,” Brooker said. “But they look up to you and show so much respect for you. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

While LeCroy, Hardy and Brooker were exposed to the project last year, Ryan Reed was one of a handful of freshman that experienced it for the first time Wednesday.

“The kids are all nice. You can tell they all love us because they look up to us,” Reed said of the reaction he saw from the students.

While most players readily recognized the long-term benefits they will likely reap from the program, a few expressed a keen understanding of the mutually beneficial nature of such a project.

“These kids look up to us and what we do is going to influence them in their life and in their grades,” Reed said.

“It means a lot that if I make a mistake on the field, they’re going to see it. And if I make a mistake in the community and end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, they see it,” senior linebacker Greg Irvin said. “This is forcing us to be men of character. People will respect us if we have character. It shows the young kids that there’s more than just playing football for Demopolis. If you are going to play football for Demopolis, you’re going to have to have character and show character at an early age.”

Players are scheduled to return to their adopted classrooms the week of Demopolis High School’s Homecoming.