One of the key components of the mission statement that guides the Maryland football program under first-year Head Coach DJ Durkin is that student-athletes will be prepared for life after football and make a difference off the playing field. With that vision in mind, the Terps have taken great pride in being involved in their community.
Bryce Bevill, the Director of Player Development for the Maryland football program, spearheads this effort by creating programs and community service opportunities that have allowed players to interact and make a positive difference within the local community.
Terrapin players and staff have been involved with numerous organizations, including mentoring and reading programs at Paint Branch and Riverdale Elementary Schools, the Youth Impact Program that helps “at-risk” middle school age boys, and they have held a coat drive with local catholic charities.
“The players love being involved and giving back,” Bevill said. “They’ve done a great job interacting with the youth and using their platform to make the community better. The kids our players meet with love it. You can see it in their faces when our guys walk into the room.”
Although practice and class schedules can be hectic, Durkin has made it a point to get his players involved in the community and focusing on things outside of football. According to Bevill, his support has been influential in getting the team involved even more in the community.
“What’s great is that Coach Durkin has created time in the schedule for these events,” Bevill explained. “We have blocks of time throughout the week where we can get our guys out to certain events in the community. Coach has made it such a priority that players are realizing how important it is, and they are now always wanting to get out there and help even more.”
The time the players have spent working with kids in the community has opened up the eyes of many Terps. Bevill says many of the players come back from certain events and ask him if they can go back again or be more involved.
“I know how I looked up to college athletes when I was a kid and it was my dream to be able to meet them,” said Terps quarterback Perry Hills. “They were like superheroes to me. Now that I’m in the position I’m in now, I love to give back and spend time with kids whenever I can.
“It’s not even that we are required to do it, we really enjoy it,” Hills continued. “Even if nobody ever notices it, there’s no better feeling than giving back. As long as you touched one person it truly means the world.”
Madieu Williams, a former Terp and nine-year NFL veteran, came back and spoke to the team about community service this past spring.
Born and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Williams has never forgotten where he came from. He returns to his birthplace each year attempting to help kids get an education, an opportunity he wasn’t afforded until his family moved to the States when he was nine.
Williams, the 2010 Walter Payton Man of the Year, has seen his efforts result in a school being built on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The school is the first of its kind in the community.
“Madieu’s story and message really hit home with our guys,” explained Bevill. “He told them that they can give back in a big way, even as college students. You don’t have to wait until you’ve made it in the NFL to make an influence in the lives of kids.”
The summer provides even more time for the Terps to get out into the community. Bevill said that Maryland staff and student-athletes will be involved in a life skills camp in Annapolis and they’ll be hosting a football skills camps with children at a local Boys & Girls clubs in the county.
Maryland will also continue their involvement with the Youth Impact Program, where over 100 kids from the inner-city will participate in a football camp from July 11-22. Terp coaches and players held a draft on June 7 to pick the teams and former Maryland standout Josh Wilson (’05) spoke at the draft.
The YIP camp has been a full team effort from Maryland staffers and players. Assistant Director of Football Operations Dan Pallante has been a big advocate of the program and has been assisted by Tyler Hancock and academic staff members Erin Brady and Amanda Reall. From the team, Melvin Keihn, Damian Prince, Ty Johnson, Derwin Gray and Jesse Aniebonam have all been involved.
Since 2006, YIP has had a meaningful impact on close to 2,000 “at-risk” youth males and Maryland is extremely excited to partner with them to make a difference.