Miami Dolphins star Christian Wilkins returns home to Springfield for youth football clinic
SPRINGFIELD – While exercising hard in the blazing sun, 11-year-old Anthony Whaley dreamed of his future.
“I want to be in the NFL someday,” said Anthony, a Springfield native and a member of the Tigers, a youth football league who attended a practice clinic with Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on Friday morning. .
Wilkins, also from Springfield, spent the morning working with more than 100 students who attended the clinic held on the athletic field at Springfield Central High School.
“I was nervous. I didn’t know how many would come, but it was awesome,” said Wilkins while chatting with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who stopped on the trail to visit Wilkins and to students.
“He said he would and here he is,” Sarno said. “He’s a good boy with a good family. He is a man of his word and we are proud to say that he comes from this city.
Wilkins was born and raised in the city with his seven siblings. They call themselves “Wilkins 8.”
His older brother Aaron Wilkins helped organize the clinic and said it was important for his brother to return to Springfield before leaving for his own NFL training next week.
“You invest in yourself by giving back and he feels like it’s part of his investment in himself and his community,” he said.
The youngest Wilkins spent the morning in the field talking to the kids and observing various exercises performed by local youth and high school coaches.
Local coaches Mark Jenkins, Wayne Babour and Wayne Woodfind ensured that several coaches and many students showed up to the event.
Anthony, who took a water break after training with High School of Commerce coach Julius Walker, said he was delighted to see Wilkins on the pitch.
“I think it’s important what he does, come back to his community and show us what it’s like to come to the NFL even though he’s from a city that is not really well known.” , did he declare.
14-year-old Hodari Johnson will be in his first year at Central this fall. He said that besides interacting with Wilkins, his favorite part of the clinic was seeing all the young children starting to play football.
“I love seeing these little kids who are the next generation of players. They are 10 and 11 and they are here working. You don’t always see that in small children, ”he said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also fun.