Newton County Sheriff's Deputy Clarence White and the Newton Rams coaching staff came together to build a connection between the Rams and the community as well as give the young players a sense of giving back.
White and Benton House Assisted Living partnered together and gave the Rams something to do on Thursdays – spend time with the elderly.
“We wanted to create a bond and give the guys a sense of not only playing for themselves or playing for the school, but playing for the community to bridge the gap between the elderly and the young adults of today. I think it was a lasting impression,” White said.
“We try to get the guys there Thursdays before the game, once they’re finished with football and let them know that football is more of a life thing than just a Friday night thing,” White added.
White took players ranging from freshmen to seniors, even high-profile players like senior quarterback Romario Johnson, junior linebacker/safety Jaquan Henderson and senior defensive end Jazztin Jefferson.
“The guys need it for that bond because we don’t know who all have grandparents, some of their grandparents may have passed on and some of the residents over there they don’t get a lot of visitation from family so that sense of connection is needed and it’s an emotional bond and growth that both sides of the coin can benefit from,” White said.
The operation began in the summer, and the boys have been active pretty much every week since then.
“It means a lot to give back to the people. Small things are what counts to me,” Jefferson said.
“It’s important to give back to the Newton community because this is where our parents and everybody was raised at. For us to get a chance to give back to our community is good,” Jefferson added.
While there, the players dropped off goodie bags, played Bingo and just talked with their elders.
“We’re young and we’re willing to help and hopefully it’ll bring more fans out to the game as well,” Johnson said.
“It’s important because a lot of people get the sense that we make it somewhere and we forget about you, but we don’t. Knowing that we grew up in the same situation that they grew up in,” Johnson said.
Some of the elders challenged the players to bring them back a win, and when the players come back the players always have to bring them a report.
“That gives them, on the field, a sense of ownership. It’s like, ‘OK. I gotta do this not only for me, but I gotta do this for Mrs. So-and-so or Mr. So-and-so.’ We’re trying to push ‘em, give them that experience that it’s more to life than football, but football is an example of everything in life. That’s the idea that myself and the coaches came up with,” White said.
“It warms your heart, really. It makes you feel like you’re not playing alone. You’re playing for somebody else,” Jefferson said when asked how it felt when someone told him to bring back a win.
Johnson says all of the people were really nice, they’d smile and give him hugs so he couldn’t tell them ‘no’ when they asked for a win.
Henderson, who says he wants to show his father, Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson that he did a good job raising him, met one lady who told him she used to coach football. She told him that she was the only coach and she used to go pick up all the players. She said that she missed doing that.
“This game’s not gonna last forever,” Henderson said.
All of the players said that they all want to keep giving back even when they go to college because it’s fun to do and added that if you haven’t done it, it’s a great thing to do.