They say you can’t teach blistering speed. Don’t tell that to 68-year-old Donald Jackson. He and his Richmond Steelers youth football coaching staff had 10 boys out in Kennedy High’s grassy baseball field Sunday morning, pumping their knees and arms like runaway freight trains.
Jackson said they’d be in right field every Saturday and Sunday until the last week of July, when football practice starts, from 10 a.m. until noon, working on speed training. “The purpose of the training is to make the kid a better athlete and a better person,” said the Steelers coach of nearly 50 years. “A lot of kids nowadays don’t know how to run or do a pushup, so we have to start from the beginning. Anybody can come out.”
The crux of the conditioning was to move one’s feet as fast as possible through a resting rope ladder. Once that was accomplished, the young athletes had to leap a couple small hurdles and dash off towards cones placed some 20 yards away, zigzagging through them like DC Comics superhero The Flash.
“Go! Work your feet real hard! Good! Good! Work your arms!” three other coaches shouted as each player lined up to run through the challenge course.
Between intervals, training coach Demar Lincoln told the emerging footballers that speed training, and learning how to recognize and run slants, would help them avoid tackles after they picked up a scoop-and-score fumble. “You might be the smallest person on the team but if you got the best angle you might catch somebody,” he said. “It’s all about angles. Football is angles.”
“I like being out here,” Teonte Dixon, 10, of Stege Elementary School, said while waiting in line for his turn to run the course. “This helps you be fast and sack the quarterback and all that.”
For more information about the Richmond Steelers youth football and cheerleading program, click here.