Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are in the books for the Oakland Raiders.
After holding nine OTAs over the past several weeks, the Silver and Black traded in their 10th and final OTA Thursday morning, instead hosting a 7-on-7 youth tournament at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility.
With the Raiders players serving as coaches, and the coaching staff acting as referees for the afternoon, eight local high schools – Castlemont, Kennedy, San Lorenzo, Encinal, Castro Valley, Dublin, Madison Park Academy and Oakland Military Institute – participated in the tournament.
And when was all said and done, Dublin High School – coached by linebacker Kyle Wilber – came away as the well-deserved champion of the eight-team tournament.
"It was important to our Head Coach, and over the past few years I've had the opportunity to be in Dallas, and they came up with this 'Cowboys U' and I've talked to Coach over the last five years how we had done this," said Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia. "So, when we got back together, one of the first questions coach asked had was, hey I want to know about what you did with those kids in the community, and how that worked out… We wanted to give our players an opportunity to coach, and see what it's like to be on that side of things. You saw the excitement, when they get to compete against each other, but they get to give back to football by giving back to the young men here in the camp, so we feel like it was certainly an early success, and we'll see what the future brings."
While the tournament was certainly meant to give these high school student athletes a chance to interact with members of the Silver and Black, all while having a little fun in the process, make no mistake about it, competition was the name of the game all morning.
Not only did the high schoolers go toe-to-toe with each other, but the Raiders players – and even some coaches – got pretty into what was happening on the field.
"We had a good showing today, man," running back Jalen Richard said. "We lost some close games towards the end, which caused us not to make it to the championship, but I'm real proud about the way my team performed man. … There's some big kids out here, they've got some big boys."
"I love kids, I have three sons of my own, so when I get a chance to interact with kids it's a good feeling," added linebacker Tahir Whitehead. "I think naturally I'm a teacher, I like just talking to them, trying to teach them something, be a mentor. Trying to help them understand the game of football, but how to be a man, how to carry yourself, so any time I get to interact with the youth is huge for me."
And as beneficial as the day was for all the students in attendance, having the roles reversed for a day, proved to be an interesting perspective for the members of the Silver and Black.
"It's stressful to be a coach, I was telling coach [Quarterbacks Coach] [Brian] Callahan, 'I can't do your job,'" wide receiver Jordy Nelson said. "Try telling to someone to do something and then they don't want to do it, so yeah it was stressful, we were losing our voices yelling at everyone. It was fun, a lot of excitement, you gain a little bit more respect for your coaches and the stuff they have to do.
The Raiders open their three-day, mandatory mini-camp next Tuesday, but for one day, the stars of the show at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway were a bevy of high school student athletes.
Raiders players coach local, Bay Area high schools students at Raiders U, a 7 on 7 football tournament, at Raiders HQ.