On Thursday, June 13, the one-year anniversary of Jordan McNair’s death, The Jordan McNair Foundation held a health and wellness clinic at McDonogh School to honor the former Maryland football player while also spreading messages to prevent further tragic deaths like his.
McDonogh athletic trainer Ashley Holmes talked with parents about the symptoms of heatstroke and how to combat the condition, while the children got to partake in drills with members of the Maryland football team.
“It’s a very bittersweet day,” said Marty McNair, Jordan’s father. “However, I think that this is our way of giving back to the community, and this is what we would want to do as far as keeping Jordan’s legacy alive.”
Maryland had about 50 players at McDonogh, with the other half of the roster at JC Nalle Elementary School in Washington, D.C., to put on a field day event. Though the events had separate itineraries, the one constant was Jordan McNair’s legacy.
“For us, it was all about Jordan,” Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley said during the clinic. “Our team chose to honor him with the way they work. They had a team workout this morning, which typically we have a bunch of groups, they decided to work out as one unit and one team. And then we made the conscious decision that we wanted to give back to the community.”
Student-athletes spent about an hour and a half working with kids of all ages on different drills to simply have a good time. Activities such as cone drills, block-shedding games and passing–catching gave kids a chance to work with college athletes and receive instruction from Maryland coaches.
Not only were McNair’s former teammates present, but after an offseason of turnover on the roster and coaching staff, plenty of new members of the Maryland football family were there in support. From new coaches such as John Papuchis and John Reagan to incoming transfers Josh Jackson and Shaq Smith, all hands were on deck to give back.
“I mean, some of the guys knew him,” Jordan said of new people to the program when it comes to honoring McNair. “They know, if they paid any attention at all over the last year, that he is kind of number one for this program. Everything we do is going to be about honoring him and living his legacy the right way.”
“It takes something special to have this deep of an impact on so many people, and as Jordan simply stated, “[McNair] never left you angry. He never left you, like, frustrated. His smile would always just light up the room and have a way of really making you feel better no matter what you were going through at the time.”
Helping out with this clinic is just one of the many ways the Maryland program will continue to rally around McNair’s legacy. A number of staples from last season — such as McNair’s jersey on the sideline and running onto the field with the No. 79 flag — will remain in effect, but the biggest thing is simply the spirit he brings.
“Jordan is still our brother,” Locksley said. “He’s still a part of our family and his legacy lives with us and the spirit in which our team will practice and play, and the effort, will be driven somewhat with the fuel of Jordan’s energy.”
The foundation took its time with parents to reiterate that heatstroke and heat exhaustion are 100 percent preventable illnesses. Teams and youth groups should take the time to develop a plan of action in case of symptoms, because readiness is the No. 1 key to survival.
Another important part of ensuring safety is making sure that groups have the tools necessary in case disaster strikes, which is why the Jordan McNair Foundation donated 20 RecoveryTubs to local youth sports groups and programs. These inflatable tubs can support anywhere from a single player to up to six athletes and provide much more portability and easy-of-access as compared to the typical metal or rubber tubs commonly used by high-level teams.
A year after Jordan McNair’s death, everyone gathered Thursday shared the common goal of ensuring similar situations don’t unfold in the future.
“The main focus of The Jordan McNair Foundation is what Tanya and I didn’t know,” Marty McNair said. “Something as basic as [the inflatable tubs], these aren’t expensive. And then again, if they were in place at the proper time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So our main goal is to educate as many people as we can. ... I’d rather a hundred parents run on the field every game and every practice, as opposed to one dead child.”