Girls playing football?
On Tuesday, the Jets donated $150,000 to help make the abstract idea a reality; albeit with a twist. Thanks in part to the generous donation, a girls varsity flag football program will be established in the spring of 2012 among several of New York City's public schools.
"We look to have a variety of different sports and physical activities," said NYC Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. "Girls and flag football is as natural as a match can be. It's just another way we're expanding sports for our young women."
At Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, representatives from the Public School Athletic League, the Department of Education, and the New York Jets together celebrated the donation and inception of the flag football league.
Representing the Jets were FB John Conner, WR Patrick Turner and DL Muhammad Wilkerson. After the check presentation, students in attendance were able to ask questions and interact with the players for a short time before hitting the field for some Football 101.
"Being in the situation I'm in, I'm very fortunate," said Turner. "To come out here, lend a hand, motivate them and inspire them if they need it, it's always a good thing."
Each player led a station to teach the players basic fundamental skills. Wilkerson threw some short passes, Turner showed proper receiving technique, and Conner led the girls through a speed ladder to increase coordination and balance.
"There are a few talented girls out here," said Conner. "I noticed some girls have good hands, good feet. I'm just out here helping them brush up on their skills a little bit."
Although only a rookie and still becoming comfortable in his role in the NFL, Wilkerson was pleased to spend his off day playing flag football in the Bronx.
"Growing up in the inner city, I enjoy helping out these kids," said Wilkerson. "It's something to do after school so they're not doing anything negative."
The $150,000 donation from the Jets will go a long way for the PSAL. In addition to funding the girls' flag football program, the money will be used for a number of other purposes.
Funds will be used to recondition every football helmet used in the PSAL after the fall season, provide two "Play Like a Jet" college scholarships, and support the C.H.A.M.P.S. (Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated, Positive Students) middle school flag football league.
"The Jets have been a phenomenal partner," said Eric Goldstein, chief executive of the NYC Department of Education's Office of Support Services. "When we need help, the Jets are there. They have proven their ability to care for New Yorkers and to care for the kids here. The Jets are our number one partner."
If Tuesday was any indication, the girls' flag football program will be a rousing success.
"It means a lot," said Alicha Beaubrun, a senior at Truman High. "They taught us how to throw a football correctly, how to hold it properly, how to do footwork and get your coordination down. I learned a lot today."
Perhaps more important than the skill lessons that were taught were the off-field lessons. Said Beaubrun:
"People actually take time out to help young'uns like us to become better at what we do, have more faith in what we do, and not have anyone break us down."