Thursday, December 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Friends, football and fun at Aggie Stadium

By
January 22, 2011 |

Enterprise staff writer

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The temperature was in the low 70s, with brilliant sunshine, and our college campus was bursting with activity on Saturday.

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Spring sports teams were getting the kinks out. Joggers and cyclists were everywhere. At the

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Arboretum, picnickers were sprawled out on the grass and, as a gentle breeze from the north seemed to sing through the trees, those silly ducks tried to create a tune of their own.

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On this great afternoon, everybody had something to do. Everybody had smiles.

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But if you were at Aggie Stadium at UC Davis on Saturday, you saw what real smiles are — and what a perfect afternoon feels like.

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For more than two hours on this day, the Aggie football team — more than 60 players volunteered — worked with two dozen Team Davis special-needs folks to provide a gridiron clinic that culminated with flag football games.

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A good time was had by all.

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The afternoon of interacting and learning new skills, presented by Campus Recreation, the Aggie football squad and Team Davis (the local Special Olympics flame keeper), was a revelation for everyone on, well, both sides of the ball.

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“It\’s good to give back,” UCD receiver Dwight Smith explained. “I know a lot of these (special

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athletes) out here, so it\’s been great to be involved.”

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Smith, a 2007 graduate of Davis High, went on to add, “God\’s given me a talent … and a big heart to give back to these guys. It\’s just the right thing to do.”

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Smith and a handful of teammates were busy for the first hour of the gathering, running a pass-catching station. High-fives were plentiful when one of the special athletes made a catch.

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After a while, the Aggies were watching their guests turn routine catches into shake-and-bake moves with a little celebration love at the end.

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“They\’re really into this,” Smith laughed.

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So were the UCD players and their coach Bob Biggs, who had lots of help from staff members, too.

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“Our kids get as much out of it as these special athletes do,” the 18th-year coach said while busy with his staff directing the five stations run by his guys. “It\’s one thing to understand and support Special Olympics … it\’s another to be involved like this.”

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Biggs said helping on Saturday was purely volunteer for his team. Once word went out, he

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immediately got about 60 takers and had to send out another note that said “we had enough.”

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“We probably would have had 90 guys out here if we hadn\’t.”

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There were kickers showing adults and kids how to split the uprights. Quarterbacks and

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running backs provided a gauntlet that enthusiastic campgoers blasted through. Over in the

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southeast corner of Jim Sochor Field were the massive linemen, dwarfing their visitors as they showed the finer points of run blocking.

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But the instruction area that everybody had their eye on was where the linebackers were showing game newcomers how to tackle.

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“That was so rad,” Team Davis kid Xavier explained after he got to put on pads and helmet and blast away at a tackling dummy. “I want an Aggie helmet.”

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A couple of Xavier\’s hits — had Biggs been watching — might have earned him a complete uniform for next fall. The “hitting” station was the highlight of the clinic …

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Until the games.

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With four squads formed and Aggie players lending hands, the Team Davis contingent played a little flag football.

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Slick moves, long touchdowns and end zone celebrations were frequent as the special players — schooled as they were now — had on game faces.

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Department of Campus Recreation Associate Director Laura Hall and Team Davis Manager Robin Dewey concurred that the recent growing relationship between their two organizations has been rewarding at both ends.

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Team Davis was created to “enrich the lives of children and adults with developmental, cognitive and/or physical disabilities living in or close to Davis,” Dewey says.

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The opportunities have grown annually. There are nutrition classes and a campus garden in place for Team Davis, soccer and women\’s basketball clinics have been conducted, and recent UCD Craft Center festivities allowed Team Davis members to make holiday gifts.

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“I\’m very excited by the relationship we have with UC Davis … and today, they get a chance to meet \’professional\’ athletes. What fun,” Dewey said, watching the instruction from

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the sidelines.

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“It\’s great to be out here,” said Aggie running back Josh Reese, another DHS graduate. “Seeing these guys so happy, knowing how it excites them to be here. It\’s just a great feeling.”

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Hmmm. Looking around, you\’ve got to wonder who Reese was talking about — Team Davis or the Aggie players.

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Notes: MBA students at UCD will be getting involved with Team Davis in the spring by conducting a fundraiser scavenger hunt. MBA participants already help coach track and basketball for the special athletes. … Aggie footballers annually visit Sacramento Shriners Children\’s Hospital and Biggs says “doing something like this is terrific, too.” The veteran coach says the Shriners visits will continue while he and Dewey hope the clinic and flag game grows to include regional participants. “We\’d like to see (this event) be a catalyst (for Special Olympics) putting flag football in as an event,” Dewey added. … For additional information about Team Davis, contact Dewey at (530) 753-8649 or rdewey@berkeley.edu.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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