Athletes attend ATLAS and ATHENA program at FedEx Field

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Thirty-one students and five coaches had the opportunity to miss school and attend the ATLAS (Athletes Training & Learning to Avoid Steroids) and ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise & Nutrition Alternatives) health promotion and substance abuse program at FedEx Field on May 3. Participants were selected by their respective coaches and left at 7:30 am on a charter bus to make the trip to Landover, MD, home of the Redskins‘ stadium.

“I approached several male and female coaches and asked them for underclassmen, not senior, that they thought were good role models and leaders for their team and the school,” said assistant Director of Student Activities Dick Adams. “The program was awesome and very informative and entertaining.”

The event was set up by the Washington Redskins and the NFL Charities and provided the student athletes with a variety of speakers, including Redskins fullback Mike Sellers and offensive lineman Edwin Williams. The students were served lunch and several were interviewed by local television stations FOX 5 News and ABC 7 News.

“It was nerve-racking [being interviewed] but still cool,” said junior Kate Bermingham.

“My favorite part was meeting Mike Sellers and Edwin Williams,” said junior Yari Mizouri. “They make me feel more motivated to succeed and be better in everything I do.”

The ATLAS and ATHENA program is meant to be implemented by the students who attended the event, as it is “shown by research that this is the most effective means [of informing their peers about the topics addressed],” said Adams.

“We’re going to start next fall with coach [Mike] Scott and the football team heading the ATLAS program and coach [Cindy] Hook and the field hockey team heading the ATHENA program,” said Adams. “There will be a variety of activities to learn from and the coach will supervise the leaders [who went to FedEx Field] who teach their peers.”

“I felt the event was very beneficial for us and fun too,” said freshman Joe Bermingham.

This opportunity was made possible by former AHS graduate and assistant Superintendent of Athletics in Fairfax County Bill Curran.

“This is the pilot program in Fairfax County,” said Adams. “And it’s nice because NFL Charities and the Washington Redskins will pay for everything.”

“I had a really good time and learned a lot [from the program],” said junior Bob Stevens. “It was also cool to meet some of the Redskins and be able to say I was in the Redskins clubhouse.”