This article appeared in the Dispatch Argus
A Hometown Teams “preseason” event will offer a free football clinic for children on the spot where the NFL played its first game.
The program partners of Hometown Teams — Rock Island Parks and Recreation Department and Quad City Wolfpack — will present a youth football clinic and football skills activity from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, in the outfield of the Douglas Park ball diamond. Minor league football players from the Wolfpack will work with participants on football skills, run through drills, and help kids through an NFL combine course. The event is suggested for boys and girls, ages 5 to 14, and is free.
Douglas Park hosted one of the first official games of the professional league that became the NFL, on Oct. 3, 1920. It was the home of the Rock Island Independents pro football team until 1925.
The football clinic is a preseason warmup for the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit on sports, sportsmanship and community team connections, coming to Rock Island Library in September.
“What better way to honor Rock Island’s unique place in football history than with an event at Douglas Park that helps develop future football players?” said Hometown Teams project coordinator Lisa Lockheart, of Rock Island Library.
No registration is required for the football clinic. For more information, call the Rock Island Parks and Recreation Department at 309-732-7275.
Hometown Teams opens on Sept. 13, along with local exhibits and programs that mark, among other local sports milestones, the role of the Rock Island Independents in the beginnings of the NFL. The exhibit is on view from Sept. 13 to Oct. 25 at the Rock Island Main Library.
Public programs in the series cover the small town roots of some very big time sports, including topics on auto racing, local beginnings of the NFL and NBA , historic stadium tours, community baseball and softball, the PGA in Moline, and women in sports. Additional sports history displays and programs will be offered at Moline Public Library, Rock Island County Historical Society, and Karpeles Manuscript Museum.
Hometown Teams is part of the Museum on Main Street program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Illinois Humanities Council.