As summer winds down and school reopens for the fall semester, one thing for sure is that Miami football is back.
After a year of uncertainty and the near cancellation of last season due to the pandemic, players, the Miami Dolphins administration and fans are looking forward to gathering once again in the new season.
The Dolphins recently held joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons at the new Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens prior to their 37-17 win at Hard Rock Stadium. Having their field within walking distance of the practice facility is an added motivational boost, one proven by Miami’s dominating performance. This week marks the last of the preseason, with anticipation running high for the start of the regular season.
During this training camp period, the Dolphins’ junior program announced its impact on youth football, having engaged more than 15,000 high school football student-athletes throughout South Florida over the last five years.
The Miami Dolphins Junior Dolphins program encourages youth players and coaches to emphasize character building, as well as learning to play the game in a fun and safe environment. The Dolphins have supported all 142 varsity high school football programs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach schools through team visits, equipment donations, character building and game day experiences.
In attendance at the recent Junior Dolphins event were representatives from the Greater Miami Athletic Conference (GMAC), Broward County Athletic Association (BCAA) and Palm Beach County Schools, along with the Miami Norland Vikings Football team.
“Today was an opportunity to reflect on a relationship between the Dolphins and all the Athletic programs of South Florida, welcoming every back to a year of sports,” said GMAC’s Denarvise Thornton Jr.
Jerseys were given to each of the county representatives to highlight the impact that has been made by the Miami Dolphins. Thornton went on to explain that most of the schools in Miami-Dade will be participating in the state series this year and others in attendance provided updates regarding the upcoming season.
“Protocols will be in place to make sure that everyone will be safe – from the players and coaches, to the officials and the fans – to ensure that everything being done will have safety in the forefront and giving the students an opportunity to fully participate in athletics,” he said.
It’s not every day that an NFL team can have an impact on high schoolers that aspire to the position its players are in today.
“It was great to see the young men visit the facility. I can recall a visit to my high school by Jimmy Warren of the Miami Dolphins. He came and spoke at my high school (Miami Edison) and that visit changed my perspective on life,” said Nat Moore, senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations for the Dolphins. “It showed me that there is nothing too big that I couldn’t obtain … and we want these young men to know that if we can do it, you can do it.”
Within five years, the Junior Dolphins program has hosted 65 high school football teams to Dolphins training camp practices; supported more than 30 girls flag football programs in South Florida; hosted game day experiences for 20 high school football teams; donated more than $500,000 in athletic equipment to high school football teams; and, through the support of Baptist Health, provided $260,000 toward equipment and health and wellness clinics.
“Our vice chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel set the vision to have an intentional impact on coaches, players and trainers in South Florida, and we are proud to have positively engaged every school in the tricounty area,” said Jason Jenkins, Dolphins senior vice president of communications and community affairs.
Several schools that have benefited from the Junior Dolphins program will be playing football this week at the “Mecca” Traz Powell Stadium. On Thursday, the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes will face off against the Miami Norland Vikings at 7 p.m.; the Miami Northwestern Bulls will play the Champagnat Lions at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Miami Dolphins will play their final preseason game on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at 4 p.m.