- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

Terry Dixon has returned to his old neighborhood in Anacostia to help give youths there a shot at the success he had as a starting offensive lineman at West Virginia University.
He knows getting into college is no easy task: The tattoo on his right forearm reads, "Without struggle, there is no progress."
As part of the Washington Redskins Youth Development Program, Mr. Dixon is back at Anacostia High School as the football team's academics coach.
Under the "Play It Smart" program started by the National Football Foundation, the Redskins plan to install academic coaches at four schools in Southeast and five in southwest Prince George's County. The Redskins have set aside $2.5 million over four years to pay for academic coaches and field renovations at these and other schools.
Mr. Dixon, 25, knows about the struggle of growing up in Southeast, having seen 12 of his friends die before he turned 18. He also knows something about progress, having played Division I football and earned a college degree.
He wears his life lessons on his skin because he wants others, like current Anacostia football stars William Jackson and Antwon Hines, to learn those same lessons.
Mr. Dixon was an All-Met offensive lineman at Anacostia before attending college and earning a degree in athletic coaching and education. His dream of playing in the NFL was not realized, but his diploma hangs on the wall of Anacostia's football coach Willie Stewart's office.
"That's motivation for them, to see someone who sat in the same seats as they do and has accomplished what I did," said Mr. Dixon.
Football, he said, can be a young man's salvation from the violence and poverty of Southeast. Of the District's 216 homicides through September, 79 or 37 percent occurred in Southeast.
"The violence outside these walls the kids have to deal with that," he said. "I tell them football can be an outlet for them. It can be a way to get away from the negativity that surrounds them on a regular basis."
But too often, football players ignore their schoolwork, or school altogether, and squander their talent. Many of Mr. Dixon's friends had "the talent, but not the drive academically" to make it into college, he said.
Mr. Dixon is at Anacostia to make sure that doesn't happen to William and Antwon. They have the talent both are being recruited by universities such as Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia and Temple. To get into those schools, they must score at least an 820 on their SAT exam and a 16 on their ACT, and have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5.
Both boys are waiting on their test scores. William, 18, a tight end and linebacker, wants to be a publicist. Antwon, also 18, has wanted to be a teacher since elementary school.
Mr. Dixon has implemented a twice-weekly study hall after school before practice, and attends every one. If players miss it, they must crab-walk the length of the football field until the coaches tell them to stop.
"It's changed the atmosphere," William said.
"We were hearing it from our coaches, but they're old school," Antwon said. "To have someone who's around our age but who knows so much, it helps."
William agrees. "There's nothing like having someone to talk to who's been through what you've been through. It's like having the answers to a test," he said.

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