Cincinnati police, Bengals players weave life lessons into youth football

‘It’s a blessing every Tuesday that we come out here... The little dudes are great.’
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 10:44 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cincinnati police and Bengals players gathered at Paycor Stadium with local youth for the last ‘Dive Right Tuesday’ of the season.

Dive Right is a fun-filled flag football league where police and players work with kids, bridging the age-gap while holding important discussions on diversity.

“It’s so cool to be apart of because you learn, like, a lot of new things and meet a lot of new people,” said Ge’Vonni Copeland, a 12-year participant in the Dive Right program.

Bengals Wide Receiver Trenton Irwin and others are frequently on hand.

“It’s a blessing every Tuesday that we come out here,” Irwin said. “The little dudes are great.”

Irwin is one of several Bengals players working hand-in-hand with police officers in the program.

“This generation is exposed to a whole lot more than we were ever exposed to,” said Eddie Hawkins, youth program coordinator with the Cincinnati Police Department.

The program teaches at-risk youth leadership, confidence and how to deal with conflict. Kids painted related affirmations on t-shirts Tuesday night.

“I can sit here and have these same conversations with these kids, and it would be okay, but to have a professional athlete have that conversation with them, it’s just a tremendous opportunity for the kids,” Teresa Theetge, interim Cincinnati police chief.

Hawkins says people underestimate the power of sports, which can often serve as a metaphor for life.

“So you have the Bengals players that are able to tell young people—from where they came and how they got to where they are,” Hawkins said.

CPD Officer Chantia Miller is commander of the youth services unit.

“It’s about showing them what’s possible,” Miller said. “It’s about getting them out of their comfort zone and engaging with the people who they look up to.”

Irwin said the weekly events offer an unvarnished look into the power and possibility of sports.

“It’s pure. They’re making plays that don’t seem that logical,” he said. “They haven’t played that muc,h but one of the dude’s had a one-handed pick last week, and then one of our girls ,she had a pick-six, and we were all celebrating.”

Irwin continued: “I think it gives them hope. I also think it gives them, you know, the understanding that someone has their back.”

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