Special Olympians Charge into Wilmington Friends Gridiron Program

SpecialOlympics1Most high school football teams around the state of Delaware spent Sunday enjoying a welcome day off from the first week of preseason football practices. But inside the gymnasium at Wilmington Friends School, head coach Bob Tattersall’s coaching staff and players gathered for a different kind of team get-together.

For the fourth consecutive year, the school’s coaches and players hosted a football clinic for Special Olympics athletes and coaches from the three area programs in New Castle County.


“I thought it was important for our players to take the time to do something for others, something bigger than themselves or the game,” Tattersall said.

SpecialOlympics2The idea to begin hosting what has become an annual clinic four years ago came after Friends chose to discontinue going away to Camp Tockwogh during the preseason as a team-building activity, according to Tattersall. It was a tradition that had stood for 45  years, and so when it ended, it left a void in the program’s preseason.

“I was looking for an alternative activity that would give back to the community,” explained Tattersall, a member of the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame and the state’s winningest high school football coach with 291 wins.

Forty-three Special Olympics athletes and a dozen or so coaches were introduced to drills and activities by the Friends’ coaching staff.

“This is a great opportunity for our coaches to learn new drills and ideas and for our athletes to experience them firsthand under the direction of local experts,” SODE director of training Mark Wise said. “The timing is perfect for them now to take what they learned and implement it in their flag football practices.”

SpecialOlympics3Friends players, decked out in their navy blue team jerseys, demonstrated the drills and then were joined by SODE athletes, donning their own light blue camp T-shirts provided by the team, to go through them at full speed.

“The high school players’ enthusiasm helped our players take their performance to another level when executing the drills,” Wise added. “There’s nothing like spirited competition to provide motivation.”

The motivation extended to the players in the navy blue jerseys, as well.

“Our players have responded just as I hoped they would, with enthusiasm,” Tattersall said

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