As a way to recognize their hard work over the last few football seasons, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation on Friday, April 13, hosted the Redskins High School Coach of the Week Celebration at FedExField for a special day of presentations.
The previous winners, along with more coaches from the annual 4th & Life High School Football program, participated in a day of coach focused professional development. The morning kicked off with a seminar led by NFL Alumnus Joe Ehrmann about transformative coaching based on his InSideOut Initiative.
Speaking alongside Ehrmann was Jody Redman, the co-founder of the initiative, which looks at the high school and college sports landscape as an opportunity to reengage with human growth and moral development – creating a higher purpose for sports besides wins and losses. Over the last 10 to 15 years, sports have become more tied to the motivations of “winning at all costs,” Ehrmann believes, and the initiative is a way to counteract that imposing culture.
The goal is to reclaim the educational purpose of sports, connecting kids with caring adults and a learning community that naturally begins in high school, where the football coaches in attendance took away some valuable insights.
“This was an amazing group of coaches, who you can tell in their conversations and how they’re interacting with one another, that care a tremendous amount about kids,” Redman said. “Their answers around what they’re trying to instill as far as core values and what their definition of what their responsibilities look like – just when we talk about defining ‘coach’ and they had these beautiful statements about the impact that they’re trying to make. You can tell that there’s a lot of work that’s been done by these individuals here who are in attendance today to really show up for kids in a transformational way.”
InSideOut is operating in 12 states right now and has partnered with state athletic associations and other leadership groups. The energy, according to Ehrmann, continues to build. “I think it’s a very timely thing because we’ve kind of lost our ball in the weeds when it comes to interscholastic sports,” he said.
“I feel really blessed to meet Joe Ehrmann,” said Mike Burnett, the 2016 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year. “He’s kind of been somebody I look up to and try to model a lot of my coaching after. To be able to hear him speak about things that are important, not just about winning and losing, but building character meant a lot to me.”
“This is one of the best groups I’ve ever had,” Ehrmann said. “I really want to give kudos to the Redskins Charitable Foundation fulfilling their moral and social obligation to give back, but they’re a terrific group of men, had a wonderful time. It always fills me with hope.”
After lunch, the high school coaches in attendance their focus on a panel of Washington Redskins Alumni players (including Dion Foxx, Byron Westbrook and Josh Wilson), all of whom have coached football at the high school or collegiate level, and provided more useful tools and shared experiences they’ve had.
“It’s a great thing because it’s also other men out here trying to give back to these kids,” said Westbrook, head coach at Bladensburg High School. “You never know what these home situations are for these kids but you have dedicated men out here that want to give back their time from their families, from their personal lives to give back to these kids and make them great adults and I think it’s a great thing.”
Following the talk, coaches received a tour of FedExField that concluded in the press interview room, where a “pop-up shop” was made available for coaches to pick up new and used cleats, pants and gloves for the Coaches to bring back for their students. It was another way of saying thank you to coaches in the community making sure to dedicate their time with student athletes in the right way.
“That’s the point, that’s why we’re all into coaching,” said Josh Wilson, a defensive coordinator at DeMatha Catholic High School. “To be able to have a positive influence over kids, especially right here where I’ve grown up and to help them become, in football, better men and hopefully get that team atmosphere and winning culture.”