Team ‘touches down’ with youth

The Florida A&M football program was invited to speak to fourth and fifth graders Thursday at Riley Elementary School about the impact of Black History Month. The team calls it a community outreach program.

Javares Knight, 21, a wide receiver, said it is up to the football team to have a positive influence.

 “We should never look over kids,” said Knight, a junior criminal justice student from Tallahassee. “We should always try to be role models to them. I’m sure they look up to us. So every opportunity we get, we should try to speak to kids and keep our youth out of trouble.”

Sophomore quarterback Eddie Battle shared his teammate’s sentiment.

“I just want the kids to see that there’s more to life than what they see in music videos,” said Battle, 20, a business administration student from Titusville. “I just want to touch kids’ lives and show them that there is success out there and there’s people that look like us and young people who are trying to go for it.”

Antonio Wallace, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, said he wanted people who had an inspiring story to try to provide motivation to the children. He said their stories need to be told.

“What I tried to do is find people who had unique stories,” Wallace said. “A lot of the guys that came to me talked about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and how it furthered us as a black race; I really wanted to talk to people that was really impacted in their lives.”

Battle and Knight along with offensive guard Javier Wallace were chosen to speak at the elementary school because of their thoughts on black history.

Reaching out to the kids wasn’t the only goal in mind for the day. Wallace said head coach Joe Taylor wanted to build the character of each athlete.

“This program is designed to treat the whole man,” Taylor said. “I always say when you find a man’s spirit you’ll also find him. Giving back and volunteering gives you the real quality of life.”