SKYHAWK FOOTBALL LENDS HELPING HAND TO LOCAL SCHOOLS
September 30, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. – For the University of Tennessee at Martin football team, this past week’s matchup against Tennessee Tech was a unique one. Not only was it the first Ohio Valley Conference game of the year for the Skyhawks, but it was also Youth Day at newly renovated Hardy Graham Stadium.
UT Martin visited local elementary schools earlier in the week as Skyhawk football players arrived around 7 a.m. to help get the kids out of their car and escort them to their classrooms. For Martin native Damani Taylor, giving back to a community that has always been a part of his life was very important to him.
“When I was growing up, we never really had that so it was good to see UT Martin make the connection with the grade schools in the city,” Taylor said. “Being from Martin, it was awesome to go back to the school and give back a little bit. The best part was just seeing the big smiles on the kid’s faces.”
Youth Day also provided an opportunity for the players to formally invite the kids to come watch Saturday’s football game. Head coach Jason Simpson says having the local youth participate in the UT Martin game day experience is something that the players and coaches really cherish.
“For me there’s really not a better cause than to have the kids participate in our game days on Saturdays,” Simpson said. “This is a great community, so for us to be able to reach out to all the local kids of Weakley and Obion counties and invite them to the game is really good for everyone involved.”
The Skyhawks knocked off Tennessee Tech 44-23 in front of over 3,000 fans, many of whom were the families invited to the game by the UT Martin players. For the student-athletes, it was a chance to understand how much of an impact they can have in the community and Simpson says that kind of involvement meant every bit as much to the players as it did to the kids.
“I think we probably get more out of it than the kids do because our players are able to see the impact that they can have,” Simpson said. “It helps them realize that they are somebody’s hero. That helps our guys when it comes to motivation for practice and how we conduct ourselves on and off the field.”
The Skyhawks return to action this Saturday, Oct. 1 as they travel to Nashville to take on Tennessee State. The contest is scheduled to kickoff at 2 p.m.