Falcons High School Player Development Program and 7 on 7 Tournament
The Atlanta Falcons hosted its annual Atlanta Falcons High School Player Development Program (H.S.P.D.) and 7 on 7 Tournament June 5 – 7, 2008 at West Hall High School in Oakwood, GA. The three-day extravaganza consisted of sessions including personal/professional development, life-skills, college-prep and a 24 team competitive passing competition.
This year's tournament had over 400 student-athletes from the state of Georgia. There were more than 160 games played over the course of the three days. Local high school counselors were on hand to provide life skills and character development sessions for all of the athletes in attendance.
An all star team was selected from the Falcons local tournament and competed in the NFL's National Tournament 7 on 7 Tournament in New Orleans, LA. The all star team from Georgia finished in 3rd place and was led by Dublin High School head coach Roger Holmes, whose team finished in first place in the local tournament.
Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Youth Week
Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Youth Week took place July 26-August 1. Activities were open to children ages 17 and under and were held one hour before each open practice. Activities included: daily autograph sessions with Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, "Look Like A Pro" where children had the chance to try on authentic Falcons equipment, "Show Your Spirit Day" offered children wearing a football jersey or cheerleading uniform a mini-football or pom-pom, "Jersey Frenzy" allowed young fans the chance to win an autographed jersey, and allowed children the chance to party with Freddie Falcon and the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders at the annual "Back to School Jam".
Nearly 1,200 children participated in the Youth Week activities and close to 30 volunteers from the Atlanta community assisted Falcons staff during the week.
Falcons First Down for Fitness
The Falcons First Down for Fitness program kicked-off in early September. The program, in its 3rd year, is designed to challenge students in grades three through seven to participate in fitness activities and lead a healthy lifestyle. In collaboration with the American Heart Association and the NFL's "Play 60" campaign, this incentive-based program rewards participants for being active at least 30-60 minutes a day, three days a week for two months. Over 15,000 students and 250 teachers across the state participated in the program during the season.
Registered teachers had access to sample lesson plans and physical fitness activities by logging onto www.americanheart.org/whatmovesu. Teachers were also asked to complete mid and end of program progress reports to keep track of their student's improvement. Incentives included: visits by players and cheerleaders, tickets to Atlanta Falcons home games, the opportunity to participate in the Falcons Fitness Flag Crew during a home game and great Falcons memorabilia among other prizes. Each student also received a personalized certificate of completion signed by Head Coach Mike Smith and Falcons Safety Erik Coleman.
Countless fans on lunch breaks and kids in gym class got quite the surprise on Tuesday October 7th. The entire Falcons roster and several Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders made surprise appearances at 12 stops around downtown and the metro Atlanta area. Six stops included select schools where the players and cheerleaders delivered new sports equipment and promoted physical fitness. The Falcons also took the chance to tip a hat to the fans and visited public venues around the city. The additional stops included the Varsity, Aquarium, and Arby's to name a few.
This marked the 10th year of NFL's and United Ways Partnership and celebration of Hometown Huddle. On this day, all the teams around the league participate in several community and volunteer activities. . This year the league focused on its "Play 60" initiative, which strives to get kids to stay active for 60 minutes each day.
Community Quarterback Award
The Atlanta Falcons Community Quarterback Award honors volunteers in Georgia (ages 13 and over) who exemplify leadership and dedication to bettering their communities. Many organizations rely on quality volunteers to create and facilitate programs that benefit countless lives throughout the state of Georgia. The Community Quarterback award is designed to recognize and reward these volunteers.
Winners were: John Willis (HomeAid Atlanta), Sylvia Campbell (Crossroads Community Ministries), Wayne Johnson (Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Georgia, Inc.), Nick Goodly (Warren/Holyfield Boys and Girls Club), and Dana Clark (A Friend's House). Winners were recognized on-field during the November 23 game against the Carolina Panthers and each of their organization's received a $2000 grant. Winners were chosen by a panel of community and civic leaders in the Atlanta area.
FalCan Food Drive
As a standing tradition, each year the Atlanta Falcons partner with the Atlanta Community Food Bank for the annual FalCan Food Drive. This year, the Falcons extended its partnership with several worthy events to help enhance the contributions to the food bank. As a precursor to the food drive, the Falcons hosted the first FalCan Food Drive Kick-off event at Perimeter Mall on November 11. This event was attended by Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, Falcons players Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood, Ovie Mughelli, Jamaal Anderson and DJ Shockley who signed autographs for fans that brought canned food items. This event helped collect over 1,000 pounds of food.
On November 16, with volunteer support from the food bank and the Atlanta Falcons Women's Association, 3, 737 pounds of food and $3,146 were collected. As a follow-up to the food drive, members of the Falcons defensive line visited the Atlanta Community Food Bank and helped sort canned goods and helped serve a special Thanksgiving meal for the less fortunate at the Crossroads Community Ministries.
Toys for Tots
Falcons fans supported the Atlanta Falcons Toys for Tots drive on December 14 vs. Tampa Bay in record fashion. With donations of over 700 toys and more than $23,000, an amount that surpassed the 2007 Toys for Tots campaign by 50%, together the Atlanta Falcons and the U.S. Marine Corps were able to provide deserving families with special toys during the holiday season.
Falcons Fitness Flag Crew
During each Atlanta Falcons home game, 60 participants are selected to assist in unfurling an oversized 40 yard by 40 yard Falcons flag as a part of the Falcons game day experience right before kickoff. These participants are made up of schools, military bases, youth football teams, and civic/non-profit organizations. The Falcons Fitness Flag Crew provides each individual with a t-shirt and ticket to the game as well as allows them to partake in pre-game aerobic activities led by the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, an on-field rehearsal, lunch and the opportunity to visit Falcons Landing. By the conclusion of each experience, participants log nearly two miles of walking.
Participants were as follows: Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Bethune Middle School football team, soldiers from Fort Gordon, The Latin American Association, the Young Survival Coalition, soldiers from Fort McPherson, Swainsboro Elementary School, Old National Knights football team, Palmetto Elementary School, Boys and Girls Club of Hall County and Visions Unlimited, Inc.
Gatorade Junior Falcons Training Camps
The Atlanta Falcons conduct Gatorade Junior Falcons Training Camps in schools and parks across Georgia with a special emphasis on introducing youth to the fundamentals of footballs through basic drills and well as expose them to hydration maintenance. 30 camps were conducted across the state and an estimated 3,500 children had the opportunity to participate.
During Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Youth Week, young fans were also offered the opportunity to participate in a Gatorade Junior Falcons Training Camp prior to select open practices.
Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders
Everyone knows that the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders perform at each home game, but what most may not know is that throughout the year the cheerleaders appeared at over 350 community events across the state of Georgia. These events included stops at hospitals, schools, homeless shelters and even military bases to name a few. During the season and post-season, select cheerleaders sing, dance, cheer and perform as a member of the Atlanta Falcons Show Troupe. This year's travels included Bosnia, Greece, Egypt, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Atlanta Falcons Junior Cheerleaders
Girls ages 5-16 had the opportunity to cheer for their home team by participating in the Atlanta Falcons Junior Cheerleaders Program. There were no tryouts required to participate and all skill levels were accepted. The girls performed during the pre-game festivities in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Falcons vs. Indianapolis Colts game on August 16, the Falcons vs. Chicago Bears game on October 12, and at the Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on December 14.
Participants of the program receive many great things including: game day uniform, pom poms, game day accessories, practice attire, four instructional clinics taught by the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, an end of the year party and much more!
Atlanta Falcons Women's Association
This past season was filled with several events and volunteer opportunities for the Atlanta Falcons Women's Association. The season kicked off with a luncheon at Chateau Élan that featured the latest fall fashion trends provided by Macy's Department Stores. Over the course of the season members had major roles in the following initiatives: annual t-shirt and pillowcase paint at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Falcons Football Academy, the FalCan Food Drive and the Toys for Tots Drive.
The Atlanta Falcons players made over 600 community appearances around the State of Georgia during the year. A few of the most unforgettable visits included a fishing excursion off of Lake Lanier Islands with Purple Heart recipients, a Black Hawk helicopter ride to Fort Gordon Army Base to thank the military for their service, serving as "teacher-for-a-day" in local schools for Teach for America week, a bowling event with children from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as, a similar event with 28 breast-cancer survivors. Additional visits throughout the community included: local elementary and middle schools, Atlanta area hospitals, numerous homeless shelters, and local libraries to name a few.
The Atlanta Falcons Rookie Club is a program designed to specifically expose and immerse the rookies into the metro Atlanta community and involve them in leadership activities. This year, the rookie class was instrumental in serving a special Thanksgiving meal to the homeless, visiting local children's hospitals, assisting with Gatorade Junior Falcons Training Camps, and supporting the Falcons First Down for Fitness program.
Throughout the year, the Community Relations Department donated items in support of charity events/programs/activities to official 501 (c)3 non-profit organizations and schools within the state of Georgia. Beneficiaries must support youth or focus on health, arts, physical fitness and/or education. We are pleased to announce that in 2008, we helped local organizations raise over $41,000.
USA Football Partnership
In January, the Atlanta Falcons partnered with USA Football to conduct its annual State Leadership Forum at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, GA. This forum brings youth football league presidents and commissioners together from throughout the state to share best-practices and discuss ways to improve the Atlanta region's youth football. Topics included: coaching education, health and safety, participation rates, fundraising and age/weight standards.
In March, the Falcons and USA Football hosted the first annual coaching school again at Mill Creek High School. This one-day coaching clinic, led by top local high school and youth football coaches, served to educate participants on teaching the fundamentals of every position, organizing a season with practice planning and developing better offensive, defensive and special teams schemes. Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith served as the keynote speaker for this event; marking the first time an NFL head coach has served as the keynote speaker for this USA football sanctioned event.