Wilmington Friends football to host Special Olympics coaches and players

posted Thu, Aug 20, 2015 by Jon Buzby

Wilmington Friends and Special Olympics football players stretch out prior to the 2014 clinic.

WILMINGTON, Del. — At the same time preseason high school football camps wind down across the First State, for the third consecutive year the coaches and players in the Wilmington Friends football program will conclude theirs in a special way.

On Sunday, August 30, from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m., Quakers players and coaches will welcome dozens of Special Olympics coaches and players for an afternoon of football instruction as their own flag football season gets under way. 

What has become an annual “rite of preseason” for the Wilmington Friends program began in 2013 when head coach Bob Tattersall decided to end the traditional week-long preseason camp held at Camp Tockwogh in Worton, Maryland. The overnight experience provided strong team-building opportunities but took a toll on players and coaches being away from families during the waning summer months. The coaching staff decided it was time to look for an alternative way to make sure the team-building aspect of preseason camp could be accomplished.

“Coach Tattersall really wanted to do something with the disabilities community, to expose the boys to those who have real challenges,” said Wilmington Friends assistant coach Artie Kempner, who is extensively involved in several nonprofit organizations supporting people with disabilities.

During the clinic each Special Olympics player will be paired with a Quakers player and together rotate through six stations: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, defensive backs, linemen and kickers/punters. Special Olympics coaches will rotate between stations to learn drills and techniques being emphasized by the school’s veteran coaches.

“It’s a great opportunity for our coaches and players to learn from some of the finest,” commented Mark Wise, Special Olympics Delaware director of sports training. “While flag football doesn’t include tackling, the basic skills of football are the same at any level and so the amount learned by our coaches and players from such an experienced football program is immeasurable.”

The session will end with several scrimmage-type games with Quakers coaches and players officiating.

“It has been so much fun in the past, and we really feel our players get a lot out of it,” Kempner added. “Coach Tattersall feels that joining the Special Olympics program offers a great opportunity for both groups to benefit through an afternoon of learning, camaraderie and fun.”