While the veterans are on summer break, the rookies are holding down the fort at Hoag Performance Center taking part in the league-mandated NFL Rookie Transition Program.
But on Wednesday, the team split up by position, and spent the day serving the Los Angeles community. Rookies on offense visited Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), and those on the other side of the ball went to Homeboy Industries, a non-profit focused on helping former gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women become contributing members of society, in downtown L.A.
“This is another part of their (rookie) training,” Arthur Hightower, Chargers Sr. Director of Player Engagement, said. “What Homeboy Industries offers to those who are coming in off the streets or from gang life, it’s a different type of training. But this is training that the rookies do to assimilate to their lives as professional athletes. They understand that the training is everywhere. And also (learn) how much they mean (to the community). The welcome they had and how important we are as being part of the fabric of the community.”
As Hightower attested, it was important for these players to spend a day outside the facility and get into the community. The rookies took away a lot from the day as well.
“I think this was a really cool experience and an educational opportunity for us,” Drue Tranquill said of his visit to Homeboy Industries. “A lot of us are new to this area, so to come in here and hear these stories is just amazing. There were so many stories in there, and it was a special day for us. This is an amazing program…. Just to come and witness the amazing work that’s happening out here is incredible. They’re saving lives, and to see programs like this, it gives you a glimmer of hope that our world can continue to become a better place.”
The rookies spent a day in the Los Angeles community visiting patients at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the staff at Homeboy Industries.
“What (CHLA) is doing is really cool,” remarked Easton Stick. “To get a chance to meet and spend some time with the patients who are there was really cool. You walk into those situations and I think you get more out of it than maybe the patients do. You realize how tough they are, and seeing the joy that they have when they get there, I think it means a lot to us. We’re appreciate that they let us stop by and spend some time with them and hopefully they had some fun, too.”
While Hightower admitted trips like these continue the rookies’ assimilation to life in the NFL, they’re also on par with the philosophy of the Chargers organization; one that is dedicated to giving back and serving the community.
“It’s part of what we do in the Chargers family,” Hightower stated. “With the Spanos family and their philanthropic efforts they have given over the years (to) the culture Head Coach Anthony Lynn has provided, even if it’s simple things like going back to school for those guys who haven’t completed their degrees. We don’t just represent the organization and the names on our backs, we represent the entire community in Southern California.”
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