The Pittsburgh Steelers helped host a flag football tournament at Mellon Park on Saturday in celebration of Juneteenth.
The Juneteenth Open Invitation Flag Football Tournament had nearly 200 participants, with the Steelers organization providing equipment and awards for the kids.
“It’s amazing to get all of the kids from our area and surrounding areas to be a part of this,” Rashad Colvin, the President of the Pittsburgh NFL League, told Steelers.com. “A lot of people don’t even know what Juneteenth is so it is an education and a fun event wrapped up all in one. And to have the Steelers involved, just the name, Pittsburgh Steelers is everything. When you are born here in Pittsburgh all you know is Steelers football. The kids from the area are excited to see anything Steelers related. We love the Steelers, love the team. Having them a part of it is amazing. Any time you see the Steelers name, kids flock to it. We are just elated.”
Steelers team president Art Rooney II was in attendance for the celebration, as were wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, outside linebacker Alex Highsmith and guard Kevin Dotson.
The players answered kids’ questions and shared advice that helped them on their respective paths to the NFL.
“Fall in love with it and have fun,” Highsmith said via Steelers.com. “The thing for me and Kevin, the reason we are where we are today is we worked hard to be the best hat we can be. If you do have the big dreams, whatever it is, a doctor, am athlete, you have to make the sacrifices to be the best you can be. You have to put in the extra time and work.”
Just recognized as a federal holiday on Thursday, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865. More specifically, it commemorates the day when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were the last in the United States to be freed nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
“I feel like I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams as far as being able to accomplish the things I want to accomplish, even going through hardships in life, knowing they would push through and I could push through, being in the upper echelon of my sport, being able to do what I want without any type of pushback,” Dotson said. “I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”