Keeping BOYS FROM FALLing
By Chris Beach, salve Executive Director
On any given afternoon across the Greater Richmond area, try football players, prescription also referred to as the Boys of Fall, are busy conditioning and preparing for the upcoming season. This year, there is one team in particular that is not only working to improve on the field, but to better themselves once they take off their helmets. Through a partnership with First Things First of Greater Richmond (FTF), a non-profit organization committed to strengthening families through healthy marriages, active fatherhood and smart relationships, the Thomas Jefferson Vikings varsity football team is participating in a program entitled Male Teen Talk. In light of the abuse and violence that has been highlighted in the media with NFL and collegiate football players, this team is taking a proactive approach to succeed on the gridiron and in everyday relationships.
In a conversation this past summer, Tammie Mobely, Director of Youth Programs, and Chris Beach, Executive Director of FTF, were talking about the impact their Male Teen Talk program would have on high school football players in the Richmond community. Beach knew just the person to call, TeeJay Head Coach, Chad Hornik, who he had coached alongside at Freeman High School in Henrico. “When Chris called me, I loved the idea and knew that we needed to teach our boys how to handle themselves on and off of the field,” stated Hornik. “This is great opportunity and it is needed with all the negative attention football players are getting.”
Male Teen Talk is a unique program aimed at educating young men about issues that many of them will face in high school. Beginning in August, First Things First started facilitating classes with a strong emphasis on teen dating violence, conflict resolution and the male image in today’s society. Research states, “A teen’s chance of involvement in dating violence increases if he or she has experienced abusive family relationships, as well as frequent, early dating and/or sexual involvement.” The goal for Male Teen Talk according to Mobley “is to empower young men to make smart choices, pursue healthy relationships, and make purposeful decisions that can lead to a healthy, successful life.”
First Things First is being assisted in these classes by facilitators Vernon Gordon and Christopher Clark, two men whose passion is to inspire young men to live every day with purpose and overcome life’s dilemmas. Gordon, a pastor at The Life Church here in Richmond, feels that “this program is a powerful asset to our communities next generation. It not only seeks to provide valuable information but life application skills for each young participant.” Clark agrees, saying that “the program benefits young men by altering the misguided traits of manhood and enhancing their understanding of the importance of positive thinking, personal conduct and respect for self and others.”
“When a boy puts on a jersey, they are looked upon differently. There are many perceptions that people have about football players and it is our goal that through this program students will be able to say that their team is more than just jocks, they are gentlemen.” says Beach. “Our hope is to reach more teams from all sports around the Richmond community.”
If you are a coach, athletic director, or an involved parent and would like to have your team take part in this program, contact First Things First at 804-288-3431. Through education and collaboration, we can help to make the Boys of Fall into the men of tomorrow.
First Things First of Greater Richmond is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families for a better community through education, collaboration, and mobilization. To support the mission of FTF or the Male Teen Talk program, contact 804-288-3431 or visit www.firstthingsrichmond.org/donate.