By Steve Ramirez
Saturday was his turn to relay what he learned to today’s youth.
Riley, a former St. Francis High School football standout who is expected to start in the UCLA secondary this fall, was one of several players, former players and coaches who took part in the NCAA Football Youth Clinic at Robinson Park.
The two-hour event, one of several held throughout the country this month, was hosted by the Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Game and featured more than 300 boys and girls, ranging from ages five to 14.
“It’s definitely great giving back to the community,” said Riley, who played in 11 of UCLA’s 12 games in 2010. “It’s great to see all the children having fun. I wasn’t fortunate to have something like this when I was growing up. The city of Pasadena is doing a lot of great things, and I’m glad I was invited out here, because there is no place I’d rather be.”
Other instructors included USC defensive back Torin Harris; USC alums Bill Stokes and Collin Ashton; Cal alum Joe Tupi; Pasadena City College coaches Damon Williams and Lamont Peters and players and coaches from the Pasadena-based California Tide semipro team, including team president and CEO Cornelius Harrell.
“If you came from this area, you’re always connected, even if you moved away,” said Stokes, who played on USC’s 1988 Rose Bowl team after standout careers at Pasadena High and Glendale College. “You want to come back and pass on the knowledge and experience that you have accrued and give back to these young kids. It’s all about giving back.
“That’s why I (took) the time to come out today, so we can give back to these young kids and get them ready. They are going to be the ones coaching 25 years from now.”
The clinic provided a vast assortment of football fundamental drills, including those associated with passing, running, pass defense and agility.
The program is part of the NCAA’s initiative toward promoting football to the nation’s youth. The NCAA has committed $1.5 million to develop a national youth program that features youth clinics and apparel grants. The NCAA reports that more than 2,5000 athletes have been impacted since the program’s inception in 2007.
“I love giving back to the community, because when I was younger it was great getting help from someone I looked up to,” Riley said. “Learning all the techniques and the fundamentals of football, you don’t get this too much. You have college coaches and the interns out here, and it helps a lot.
“We’re all giving back to the game and our community. This makes our game much better.”