For the past 32 years, Steve Zanders has been keeping the boys and girls of Woodland Terrace active – both physically and mentally.
It started when the boys needed a baseball coach. That season ended and a new sport was organized. That original effort has grown into the Woodland Tigers -- teams for football, basketball, boxing, dance, and t-ball for youth ages 5 through 15. That is about 300 kids, Zanders said.
“I’m fighting for a lot of stuff. I’m fighting against the negativity,” Zanders said. “I’m not going anywhere. We got to get to the youth today.”
So in addition to athletics, Zanders brings in guest speakers to try to engage and encourage his team members.
Washington Redskins Hall of Famer Darrell Green and his son, Jared Green, who formerly played with the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders, were guest speakers at a recent teen summit.
The Greens “are interested in partnering with the Woodland Tigers and to start mentoring some of you,” Zanders told the crowd.
The elder Green said that he came from a similar background as the Tigers players. His mother raised him and his six brothers and sisters in Houston’s Third Ward, a neighborhood very similar to Southeast, he said.
“We have no agenda,” he said. “We are here to share our experiences and to share your experiences.”
Jared Green said that while he grew up in the suburb of Loudoun County, Va., he enjoys working with his ministry in the District.
The violence in our communities takes “away from who we can be,” he said.
Priorities “have to drive what you do,” and the process of finding the right priorities must help you “structure your life in order to accomplish your priorities,” said Jared Green. He went on to say, “If you have a good foundation, then you can grow.”
His father agreed and spoke to the parents in the room. “Lead by example. That is how you prepare people to be leaders.”
The community, the Tigers team, and the Greens plan to continue the discussion after the start of the new year.