Local Moms take to the football field

Published 6:06 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

Almost a hundred people stood on the Bainbridge practice field, black liner under their eyes and wearing shirts that read “Rise Up” in silver letters on the back.

If you’re first thought is the Atlanta Falcons football team had come to practice at Bainbridge High School, nobody would blame you.

But they were local mothers, each one there to learn more about how to raise their football playing kids and the safety measures they need to take into account along the way.

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The Atlanta Falcons, in partnership with Kids & Pros, hosted a mom’s only clinic Tuesday evening in Bainbridge. Former FSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, former Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry and other guest speakers educated the mothers for an hour before taking them out to the fields to put them through their own football training.

Topics ranged from concussions, to steroid use to working hard both on the field and in the classroom for a successful career.

“Injury—it happens,” Ward said. “But what did it teach me? It taught me I had to work. If this is something I really wanted to do, I had to dedicate myself to making it happen, so working is something I had to do.”

Ward had knee injuries his freshman and sophomore years at Thomas County Central. While recovering, he played as the Yellow Jackets’ punter, but an injury to the first string quarterback brought Ward under center.

His desire to heal and play well is a product of his work ethic, Ward told the room of moms.

“If I’m going to make that same effort to play sports, then I am going to have to make that same effort in the classroom,” Ward said. “In order for me to be the productive athlete, I had to put time in as a student as well. That’s work ethic.”

The topic of steroid use was one that hit close to many mothers in the room. Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooten Foundation Clinic explained steroids were in 20-25 percent of products found at GNC stores.

Not only that, but ordering illegal steroids was as simple as Googling a seller and having the drugs mailed in a cardboard box.

“I totally didn’t know how easily you could get steroids mailed to your front door,” said Kathy Williams, mother of Bainbridge running back Malique Pate. Williams said she was definitely going to teach all the information she learned to her son. Curry led the ladies on the field as they went through passing drills, tackling dummies and agilities, all while laughing and cheering each other on.

“My favorite part was meeting the coaches and interacting with everybody and learning the basic rules of football, and having more respect for it,” said Diane Long, mother of Bainbridge lineman Griffin Long and former player Jason Long. “I know what my two sons went through.”