July 26, 2016 | Bloomington Herald-Times
The sounds of pads popping, or being tapped very gently, could be heard Monday morning outside the Boys and Girls Club of Ellettsville as a dozen members of the Indiana University football team helped the kids run drills. This was the third IU Football Day in partnership with the club.
Quarterbacks, linemen, running backs and linebackers showed the more than 70 children proper throwing and tackling techniques, and then let them have at it, cheering with excitement at a particularly good catch or tackle.
Oscar Gonzalez, the director of the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Ellettsville unit, said the kids always enjoy IU Football Day. Gonzalez said 13 kids from the Crestmont club in Bloomington joined in the fun.
“All the kids look forward to it,” Gonzalez said. “We try to expose them to new activities and let them enjoy summer while preventing that brain drain that might happen out of school.”
The club has gone on trips to the Indianapolis Zoo, the Children’s Museum, WonderLab and McCormick’s Creek, to name a few.
Members of the IU football team said they were happy to give their time to show the kids a few skills and be positive role models for them.
“I know when I was their age, it was really cool seeing guys in my position,” offensive lineman Jacob Bailey said. “If they get half as excited as I did, it’ll be worth it.”
Linebacker Dawson Fletcher provided color commentary as much as he held the pads for the kids to run into, encouraging them after a nice spin move or after a surprisingly powerful hit that took fellow linebacker Reakwon Jones by surprise.
“It’s important to give the kids positive role models. With what’s in the news all the time and all that, we just want to help them have some fun and forget all that,” Fletcher said.
Quarterback Richard Lagow, a junior college transfer, is battling for the starting position next season and used his talents to show the kids how to run a fade route.
“This is one of the first times I’ve been able to get out in the community with the team, so it’s really been a lot of fun helping out and watching the kids run around,” Lagow said. “They have a ton of energy.”
One such kid with energy to burn was Andrew Good, tackling dummy bags with a cast on his arm. He sprained his thumb playing baseball, but wouldn’t have missed IU Football Day. He said he enjoyed the wide receiver section the best.
Madelyn Williams said she enjoyed tackling the most, reveling in the catharsis of driving the pad into the ground. Nehemiah Strunk enjoyed the running back station the most.
“It’s fun because I get to juke and hit that guy,” Strunk said with a big smile, pointing at Dawson. “I really liked that.”