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Soldier Coaches Inspire Inner City Chicago High School Football Teams with a Free Football Skills Clinic

On July 11th and 12th Soldiers To Sidelines hosted a football coaching workshop for ten select Soldier Coaches to provide free football skills clinics for the community. Everything was free for Soldier Coaches and free for the lucky high school football players at Orr Academy High School, Michelle Clark High School, Corliss High School, and North Chicago High School in Chicago, IL. The generous support from The Randy Walker Legacy Foundation and the Botsford Family made this incredible experience possible for 96 inner-city kids and 10 Soldier Coaches.

The event began at noon July 11th at the original Halas Hall on the Lake Forest College campus. In the football offices where the 1980s Chicago Bears held football camp, Coach Jerod Kruse and Harrison Bernstein guided ten Soldier Coaches through an intensive curriculum on how-to set-up, organize, and coach a free football clinic for the community. Then on July 12th, we coached 96 Chicago football players on football fundamentals. The kids experienced an action-packed fun-filled event, and everyone went home with a free T-shirt.

The Chicago U.S. Army recruiting command enhanced the event with several fitness stations including deadlift, pullups, and bench press. Twenty U.S. Army soldiers led the kids through a galvanizing team-building relay to conclude the event.  The presence of the Army recruiters exposed the players to all the incredible benefits of military service. During rest periods several soldiers explained how military service helps young athletes be all they can be. The kids learned that through military service they can earn the GI Bill which will pay for college and provide opportunities to play college football in lieu of getting a scholarship.

STS Football Director and former NFL and D1 NCAA Coach, Jerod Kruse said, “This was one of the best organized and effective clinics I have seen in all my years coaching football.” He was thrilled by the focus and attention of the Soldier Coaches in preparation to deliver this event.  “The characteristics of organization, planning, teamwork, courage, and resilience are inherent in our Soldier Coaches from their military experience which shined through during the clinic,” exclaimed Harrison Bernstein, STS Founder and Executive Director.

The Soldiers To Sidelines Coach-the-Coach Workshop and Skills Clinic program solves four serious issues facing our country. First, it provides a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity for Veterans to thrive in the community. Second, our Soldier Coaches fill the massive shortage of quality sports coaches in our country. Third, the presence of Soldier Coaches in the community bridges the civilian-military divide. And fourth, the positive impact of our soldier coaches may influence some young athletes to serve in the military ensuring the future of the all-volunteer force.