It's important for young athletes in any sport to know how they should conduct themselves on and off the field, and especially when the local or national media is watching your every move. Knowledge of how to handle yourself in front of a microphone and camera might even help players keep from becoming another Johnny Manziel.
And that's why the Miami Dolphins met at the Don Taft Arena at Nova Southeastern University to show various athletes from 105 different schools around Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County how to deal with the media properly and give them hands-on experience through five minute press conferences.
"It's something that kinda came together organically," said Troy Drayton, who is the Dolphins' Manager of Youth and Community Affairs. "We were just sitting there with the media one day and my boss Twan Russell always says 'how can we serve you guys?' And we started talking, and just out of a couple of ideas was born High School Media Day."
And since the Dolphins started it up a couple of years ago, the event has only grown each year, as this year's number of schools was up by 35 from the previous year thanks to the inclusion of schools from Palm Beach County, and the athletes really got a good experience as several of them were interviewed during the press conferences and even one-on-one interviews.
"It's a training ground for a lot of these athletes." said Drayton. "It gives them informal training on how to go about answering the media questions, talking in front of the media and really just expressing themselves and selling themselves to everybody in South Florida."
The Dolphins do have help in this endeavor, and not just from their partners at Nova Southeastern University and the media members who help arrange getting all the teams together. The coaches of these teams have made it a point to teach their athletes more than just football.
"I instill qualities of life." said head coach Eddie Brown of Boyd Anderson High School. "The things that they need to do to be successful in life. I really don't teach football, I teach life. We just so happen to play football, but all the qualities that I teach in my program are the things that are gonna allow them to grow up one day to be good fathers, good husbands and good providers for their families."
The influence that these coaches have had on these athletes paired with the efforts that the Dolphins have put forth to prepare the athletes for the college level has meant a lot to these athletes.
"It's great," said Michael Nesbitt, cornerback and free safety for Boyd Anderson High School. "When I come back next year, I know what to expect, and I'll be prepared for it."
They'll be prepared alright, but not just for the next season, but for the college level and possibly even the NFL. It takes a lot to get there, but if they do, they will go in with the knowledge of how to deal with the media and how to conduct themselves like the professionals their coaches have raised them to be.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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