The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Good Sports Inc. teamed up on Monday to provide more than $10,000 worth of sports equipment to Johnson Middle School in Washington, D.C.
The questions were harmless – inquiries about staying active and favorite subjects in school. And then, one of the 25 students selected to attend Monday's presentation of new sports equipment to John Hayden Johnson Middle School asked several Redskins players about their education.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Good Sports donated sports equipment to John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Washington D.C. on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, to increase the number of sports they offer to students.
Running back Alfred Morris, standing beside his teammates -- fullback Darrel Young, safety Kyshoen Jarrett and wide receiver Ryan Grant -- began to get nostalgic. He spoke about his difficult economic background, growing up "dirt poor" and how important academics and sports were in advancing him through college and preparing him for life. He looked around to see if anyone else wanted to add their perspective, but the message was sufficiently powerful and clear.
"I always want to use my opportunity, what I went through and where I am now, to help other youngsters, other people who may be in the same situations I grew up in," Morris said.
That message Monday morning was only reinforced with the new partnership between the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Good Sports Inc., who teamed up to provide more than $10,000 worth of sports and fitness equipment to the sixth through eighth graders at the school, located in southeast Washington, D.C
This gift was a part of a series of equipment donations made through this partnership totaling more than $50,000 in equipment to area non-profits, sports leagues and schools.
"We partnered with Good Sports in early 2015 to expand access and the necessary equipment to youth sports in our community," said Jane Rodgers, Executive Director of the Redskins Charitable Foundation. "In total, more than $50,000 in equipment and supplies were donated to eight groups in the DMV. This event is our way of celebrating the donation with one of the recipients."
A group of 25 students was chosen to attend the donation presentation and ask players some prepared questions thanks to their already strong academic work. On a table before them were new basketballs, soccer balls, running sneakers, warm-up apparel, basketball jerseys, soccer jerseys and cross country jerseys.
Pretty soon, the basketballs were off the table and being used.
Players and students filed into the halls and then into the gymnasium, bouncing balls in between, to play several games of knockout, shooting around and dribbling with each other. It was clear basketball was a secondary sport for most of the players.
"I have some horrible basketball skills. I did not possess that talent growing up, so I'm happy that football worked out for me," Jarrett said. "I'm just happy to be out here having fun with the kids. My missed shots and my silliness, messing around, is putting a smile on their faces. That's what this is about."
Morris said he hadn't played basketball in three years and that he couldn't "lose anymore skills," but was glad he could have fun with his group of kids.
Grant took his game a little more seriously, and wasn't afraid to show off his jumpers.
"If I practice for about a week and a half, I'll have my shot back," Grant said. "Basketball is my first love, but my sophomore year in high school I had to choose between basketball and football…I'm kind of height challenged, and basketball players have to be really tall, so I chose the football route and it worked out."
Players handed out autographs at the end of the midday recreation, concluding a day filled with generosity and a commitment to students staying active in their school.
"It definitely gets kids excited to know that people do care," said the school's principal Courtney Aldridge, "hearing it from individuals that are not Ms. Aldridge about the importance of school, and the importance of working hard and valuing education."