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Football players give youth something to look up to
S-Future You pic1
Coach Sid Maxwell and players from the DCHS football team get photos with the 6U players during their practice last week at Veterans. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Dawson County High School football players gathered last week at Veterans Memorial Park during practice times for the elementary school-aged park and recreation teams to spend a few moments with the kids who admire their local football heroes.

Elementary kids as young as 6, these small gridiron stars got to visit with and receive encouragement from the local Friday night celebrities.

It's a part of an initiative called "Future You" that is an extension of the character development program that Head Coach Sid Maxwell instituted with his players.

"Our desire in character development is to train, equip and lead our players to leave a legacy that goes beyond the football field," said Russell Davis who is the character coach for the team.

"We teach that every young person has a name, and your name is one they look up to," Davis said.
The players divided up into groups and spread out across the park to meet with individual teams and hand out photos with autographs and words of encouragement for the younger players.

Every player in eighth grade up through the seniors had a picture made. They were then asked to autograph a card that went with their photo. Each park and rec player received their own card and picture of a Tiger football player.

Davis came up with the idea after recalling his own childhood and the influence of the high school football players.

"I remember wanting to be those guys and admiring everything they did," he said.

Park and rec coach David McKee and his team of 6U kids were gathering at the back of the park.

The tiny athletes weighted down in full pads and helmets looked on in almost stunned silence as the older players like Austin Young and Colin Glover made their way onto the field to say hello and hand out photos.

McKee explained to his team that these were the guys they had been to see play football on Youth Night at the high school the week before.

"Going back and seeing those kids makes you think back to when you were that age and how you just wanted to be those high school guys repping the Tigers," said senior Luke Martin. "Now it's cool to see the influence that we have on the kids in the park and rec system and how they look up to us now."

Players looked over their photos and held them up proudly to have their own photos taken with the high school athletes.

"I remember being their age and just wanting to be just like them and I take a lot of pride being someone that they can look up to," said senior Loghan Armstrong.

Maxwell talks frequently about the importance of family and how the program itself is more than just a team.

"The great thing is that the pattern of unity and influence never stops with this process," Davis said. "People are excited; from Coach Maxwell all the way down to the youngest kid on the 6U team. Our high school players take pride in reaching out because it makes them feel significant and important."