The Western Brown football program held a special practice at the Ohio Veterans Home last Monday, June 29.
The varsity football team practiced out on the fields to the north of the home for one hour and then spent the next sixty minutes interacting with the veterans in the home. Unfortunately, due to strong rains, the veterans weren’t able to watch the practice.
“It was a good turnout,” Broncos head coach Don Sizer said. “I think a lot of the kids who maybe couldn’t have made it, made it because they know it’s a big deal. That’s bigger than football really. That was our goal for this, to practice a little football and to see how other people live and how other people’s lives are affected by maybe just some football kids coming to say hi.”
Sizer took away plenty from his conversations with the veterans, and he thought that just getting the chance for the kids to interact with the veterans made the trip worth it, despite the weather.
The football team had the honor of speaking with Richard “Dick” Nichols, who was a freshman on the 1942 national champion Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Soon after, he served in the U.S. Air Force flying planes taking wounded soldiers out of Europe back to the USA, landing at bases in Georgia, Colorado, and Buffalo, New York.
“I saw the guys just hang on every word from what the veterans were talking about,” Sizer said. “They were genuinely interested, because I don’t know how many of them get to be around older folks to start with and then veterans who have done a lot for this country. I think they enjoyed the time they spent with them.”
The event was sponsored by Open Arms Always and was organized by Sizer and Open Arms Always member Jack Scott.
Due to rules about no-contact summer practices, the Broncos worked on their fundamentals during the practice.
“We went through some fundamentals, some recognition, a little bit of throwing the ball and catching the ball,” Sizer said. “We didn’t do any real tackling but we got better individually.”
Sizer said he hopes that an annual trip to the visit the veterans can become a new team and school tradition.
“If it’s not (a new tradition) I would be really disappointed,” he said. “I’m glad I’m here. I know it’s a good thing for the boys.”
Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell