Dabo Swinney
Darien Rencher
Sean Pollard
Travis McNeal
Clemson Football

Clemson is practicing this week, just not how you might expect

October 10, 2018
1,828

Ten years ago, a 12-7 loss at Wake Forest spelled the end of the Tommy Bowden era midseason. After a 3-3 start, Dabo Swinney was named the interim head coach and decided to make several changes including how Clemson would spend their bye week.

Swinney decided that his players should serve others during their time away from football. Back then people wondered why the team would do something like that, especially a team that was struggling following all the hype leading into that season.

The answer was simple.

“We’re practicing. We’re just not running football plays. We’re still practicing as a team. We’re developing as a team, we’re growing our players, we’re teaching,” Swinney said.

“We’re practicing. We’re just not running football plays. We’re still practicing as a team. We’re developing as a team, we’re growing our players, we’re teaching,” Swinney said.

“I remember that first year we went to the hospital in Greenville and I walked away from that saying, this is so important that we provide our young people opportunities to serve and to give back, to make a difference for others, especially to serve people who maybe can’t do anything in return. I just think that’s a powerful lesson for everybody. It’s something I learned early on as a kid. I know this, I had a lot of people serve me when I needed it so this is an opportunity for me to give back and for these players to gain such great perspective, just to do something together.”

This year, the Littlejohn Community Center in Clemson selected 300 to 350 families in need and with the coordination of P.A.W. Journey and the Golden Harvest Food Bank in Anderson, players loaded up boxes of food to hand out to them.

There were inflatables for the kids, a pop-up barber shop available for anyone needing a haircut, as well as free health screenings through St. Francis and Dabo Swinney’s All In Foundation.

Clemson offensive linemen Sean Pollard called the event ‘the best feeling.’

“It’s a huge reward to a person, you don’t expect anything from that person through serving. One woman couldn’t walk, and I was able to bring her food and she was just smiling," Pollard said. "She asked for a hug and said 'I’m going to tell everybody that Sean gave me food,' so it was just awesome to see that."

Executive Director of the Golden Harvest Food Bank Travis McNeal told us seeing the student-athletes serve is inspiring.

“We believe that those families that are in this line today, something like today provides hope and hope provides them a hope for the future. That’s everything for us,” McNeal said.

Ten years after some questioned the move, the reality is that moments like this are the foundation for what Clemson football has become and it starts off the field.

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Clemson is practicing this week, just not how you might expect

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