By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterMay 19, 2014
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - In the past three weeks, a plethora of individuals representing professional sport leagues have visited Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
The evening of April 28, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell was a guest of honor at a Salute From the Chief Twilight Tattoo. The NFL was again represented on base May 9 when Carolina Panthers Thomas Davis and Ryan Kalil met and greeted servicemembers at the Honor Guard Lounge.
May 12, it was the District of Columbia's professional soccer team's turn to offer some goodwill as a fifth of the D.C. United soccer club roster offered encouragement and tips to the sport's next generation of fans and players.
The soccer clinic, part of Armed Forces Week, included 31 kids from JBM-HH's Child, Youth and School Services program and six local MLS players, who trotted with and instructed 99 children on the nuances of footwork, dribbling and goalkeeping at the JBM-HH athletic field. Called a "unique event" by D.C. United Marketing Manager Andrew Minucci, the clinic was just one of a pair of soccer events CYSS kids and their families were able to enjoy during the week. Mothers, fathers and guardians who attended the clinic received the opportunity to obtain tickets to D.C. United's Armed Forces game against the Montreal Impact scheduled for May 17.
"This was great because it is military appreciation week and it is leading up to the game on Saturday," said School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES) Youth Sports and Fitness Director Annette Engum. "The kids get the clinic and the parents get a day out with the family."
At four separate skill stations, kids ranging from pre-school age to pre-teenager watched, listened and drilled with the likes of D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and midfielder Collin Martin. Both Hamid and Martin are home-grown, local team stars. Martin is a Chevy Chase native and played high school soccer at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, while Hamid was born and raised in Alexandria.
Hamid spoke of the importance of giving back to the military.
"I'm very patriotic...it means a lot to come out here and spend some time with the kids from the area," Hamid said following the clinic. "I understand the meaning behind wanting to spend time with a professional athlete. I also like to give out some good vibes and to teach them some soccer."
At the conclusion of the hour-long, skills-teaching session, kids were treated to an autograph session with Hamid, Martin and fellow D.C. United players Nick DeLeon, defender Nana Attakora, striker Luis Silva and 2014 D.C. United draft pick Steven Birnbaum.