As part of Bengals.com's high school journalism program, this story is written by a member of the journalism club at Cincinnati's Aiken New Tech High School headed by Lakisha Zyyon.
Greater Cincinnati middle schoolers recently headed to Paycor Stadium to interact with some Bengals as players connected with students during stations centered around popular football drills.
Mason Middle School and Winton Woods Middle School are two of more than 50 local schools that participate in the EverFi Character Playbook, a digital character education program for middle school aged students designed to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. The students were invited on to the Bengals home field for a Skills & Drills Clinic powered by Gatorade as the team's way of saying thank you for participating in the program.
Stations were manned by linebacker Joe Bachie, safety Brandon Wilson, wide receiver Trent Taylor, cornerback Tre Flowers, and safety Mike Thomas. While running the drills, players spoke to students about everyday school situations and pursuing healthy relationships.
At the stations, students worked on drills as a way of understanding the importance of collaboration and communication. Players asked questions such as, "What would you do if your teammate was having a rough day?" and "How would you get a better understanding of their feelings?" Many students responded saying communication is the best option.
"Learning more about leadership," said Reid White, a Mason student, of his experience with the Bengals.
Learning about leadership is something that the Bengals players had no trouble teaching.
Thomas ran the wide receiver drill and threw to the students. Taylor did the footwork drill with ladders and landmarks. Bachie handled the quarterback drill as students threw footballs into a net. Wilson was in charge of the running back drill and challenged students with bags. Flowers oversaw a uniform relay where students changed in and out of gear that included helmets and shoulder pads.
"Never having an opportunity like this growing up and being able to give back was definitely something I wanted to do," said Bachie when asked why he decided to come out on his off day.
The Bengals and Gatorade gifted students a goody bag with a wrist band and squeeze bottle as they headed back to school.