By Beverly Perkins
There was no better way to start a school day before the holidays than with a surprise from the Miami Dolphins. The Hollywood Hills High School football team had no idea that they would be receiving an unexpected visit from Miami’s very own NFL team on a typical Wednesday morning.
Dolphins players Isiah Ford, Malcolm Lewis, Raekwon McMillan and Eric Smith, Dolphins Youth Programs Manager and alumnus Troy Drayton and cheerleaders Holly and Jodi were all in attendance for the event along with a truck full of equipment.
The Spartans were ecstatic to be receiving the donated equipment which included running sleds, foam rollers, heavy bags, medicine balls, ropes, and hurdles. They were able to interact with the AFC East football players and thank them for the generous gifts.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to give back,” McMillan said. “These guys, they go out and they put in hard work, and we’re trying to show them that giving respect to your coach and paying your dues gets you the opportunity to have things like this happen for your program.”
Additionally, the Spartans football team had the opportunity to visit a Dolphins practice, meet with current players, and enjoy a lunch provided by Wendy’s. Prior to the Dolphins vs. Patriots Monday Night Football matchup on December 11th, the Hollywood Hills squad was featured as the team of the week. This privilege allowed them to stand on the field for the national anthem.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the Miami Dolphins donate much needed equipment to our football program. Both our players and coaches experienced a team that is doing more than just talking about giving back to their community. While the equipment will make us a more talented team on the field, the lessons that the players shared with us will last a lifetime,” said Hollywood Hills Head Football Coach Brandon Graham.
Furthermore, the Hollywood Hills team participated in the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Leadership Program. The RISE Leadership Program is designed to empower sports administrators, coaches and athletes to be leaders in discussing and addressing matters of racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusivity within their teams, schools and communities.
The multifaceted program increases awareness, builds skills and creates safe spaces to have difficult conversations. Participants learn about the history of race and sports, the power of sports to drive change and how they can become leaders in improving race relations. Founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, RISE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.