Joe Flacco drove past the Best Western Westminster Hotel on Md. 140 and reminisced about the days when the Ravens spent their summers training at McDaniel College.
The Ravens relocated their training camp to a facility in Owings Mills beginning with the 2012 season after 15 years in Westminster (1996-2011). Flacco, along with Ravens safety Tony Jefferson and former players Jamal Lewis and Brad Jackson, came to McDaniel on Tuesday to take part in the first of four Play Like a Raven clinics.
“It was funny driving up a little different way but you can see the fields over there, they’re not lined,” Flacco said. “A lot of the guys on the team haven’t…there’s probably five guys left on the team that actually had to practice here year-round. It’s kind of cool.”
The Ravens’ quarterback took turns throwing a football back and forth with campers clad in gray T-shirts that read “Play Like a Raven” in purple letters across the front as family members took pictures and recorded videos from the sidelines at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium. Others posed for pictures with Poe, the Ravens’ mascot, and members of the team’s cheerleading squad.
The one-day clinic, designed for kids ages 5-15, was sold out. Other scheduled clinics will take place next week at Bel Air High School, Western Regional Park in Howard County, and Archbishop Curley in Baltimore, with appearances from other current and former Ravens players.
Campers were split into groups on the main field as well as the practice field to receive instruction from USA Football certified trainers and Heads Up Football trained coaches. Winters Mill’s football program co-hosted the event, and members of the team were paired with groups to help the kids work through the fundamentals of the sport.
Falcons sophomore Chance Schrell said the most important thing to teach the campers is how to have fun and learn to play together as a team.
Carroll County Daily Headlines
“I’m glad to be out here helping the little kids do stuff I love and have them progress and be what I am today,” Schrell said. “I just want to be a good role model to the kids so they have a good football career if they want to keep going up.”
Tyler Seigman, 14, said this camp provides kids with a good opportunity to learn how to become one of the pros. Getting first-hand help from current and former Ravens players is an added bonus as well.
“It’s cool because they’ve been there,” Tyler said. “They’ve had experience and you know they’re obviously doing something right.”
Some fans in attendance sat in the stands to watch the kids on the field while others took advantage of the vendors surrounding the clinic’s action. Parents with small children made use of the inflatable Ravens play area on the campus side of the stadium as well.
Prior to the clinic’s start, fans could fill out a card with a question for the current and former Ravens in attendance. Flacco and Jackson took part in the Q&A session and answered a series of questions focusing on the rigors of the sport.
“It’s good, it just means that kids are willing and their parents are willing to bring them places where they can get outside and start running around,” Flacco said. “Football means something to people and I think that’s still a big thing, that’s what you’re most proud of as a player — just being able to show guys how good football can be for you and how much you can develop your life in other ways.
“They don’t understand that yet but that’s why you have to get across to them that it’s fun. Find positive ways to encourage them so that it stays fun for them throughout their whole life because it will do really good things for you if they can stick with it.”