It’s early afternoon on a Thursday, and former Northwestern football coach Jimmy Wallace is holding court in the back corner of Luke’s. As a reporter walks up, Wallace is just finishing a visit with a coach and former player. “Moose,” as Wallace is commonly known in Rock Hill, is technically retired, but he’s hardly sitting still.
Wallace is eagerly putting the finishing touches on a coaches’ clinic and tackling clinic that he’s putting on with the Rock Hill Parks and Recreation Department on July 20 and 24. The aim, according to Wallace’s teammate from Parks and Rec., Brian Jones, is to teach kids how to tackle properly.
“There’s been a big push for safety in football the last three or four years, and especially this last year with the NFL getting on board,” said Jones. “And we’re just trying to do our due diligence and prevent as many possible injuries as we can.”
As Wallace said, “If you helped one young man, it’s all worth it.”
During the course of last Thursday’s conversation, Wallace called football “the greatest game God ever put on Earth.” If that’s the case, then Wallace is on a righteous crusade.
“We want to make this game safer,” he said. “We have to make this game safer.”
Wallace’s crusade was sparked by an article in USA Today. “Moose” picked up the paper earlier this year and saw a photograph of his friend, longtime Concord (N.C.) High School football coach E.Z. Smith above an article about Heads Up football, a movement in American football to help teach children how to tackle correctly.
“When you’re retired, you’ve got to do something,” Wallace said. “So I called him.”
Jones and Wallace have hashed out the logistics over the past four months and have settled on July 20 and 24 as the days for the two clinics.
Wallace and a number of local high school coaches will host youth football coaches from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, at Manchester Meadows to teach correct tackling form and proper fitting of equipment, among other pertinent topics.
And on July 24, Wallace and company will host another free clinic, this one for kids ages 7 to 12 at District 3 Stadium from 7 to 9 p.m. with the aim of showing youth football players how to tackle correctly – head up, chest out and ripping up with the arms.
Jones hopes to have all three of Rock Hill’s high school coaching staffs at the July 24 clinic, as well as some former NFL players. One constant presence, though, will be Wallace, full of fervor for the game he loves.
“Not only passion for football, but also passion for kids and passion for the Rock Hill community,” Jones said.”He brings the name recognition that will hopefully bring our coaches out and get them excited about safety.”
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T