Former National Football League quarterback Sage Rosenfels made a visit to Spring Valley High School on Saturday to work with children and raise money for a local nonprofit.
Rosenfels hosted a volunteer one-and-a-half hour football instructional event for children ages 8 to 18, a fundraiser for Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put. The event was organized by the nonprofit’s president Margy Balwierz.
Although Rosenfels now lives in Omaha, Neb., he has made many trips to Pierce County in the past few years. His family has known Margy Balwierz and her husband, Gary, for the past four decades. Rosenfels is also dating Margy and Gary’s daughter, Molly Thibert.
“I feel like probably every three months or something we come up here to Wisconsin,” Rosenfels said at the end of Saturday’s event. “It’s only an hour drive from Minneapolis, so it’s pretty easy to get out here for a weekend.”
Rosenfels played quarterback in the NFL for 12 years with the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings organizations. He made 12 career NFL starts and played in 44 games from 2002 through 2010.
Rosenfels’ Spring Valley event included stretching and some cardiovascular activity with the kids before playing football-related games. The day concluded with the former NFL quarterback throwing passes to the participants.
Afterward, he said his biggest piece of advice for young players is that hard work is necessary to achieve goals in life, whether it be football or anything else.
“Nothing ever great was done without enthusiasm, that is probably the greatest thing to teach young kids,” Rosenfels said. “You don’t just become great on accident, or become great without working hard. You have to put a lot of energy and work into whatever you do.”
Rosenfels commented on the risk of concussions and other injuries in the sport of football, an increasingly analyzed topic in the past two decades. He said injuries is something every football player needs to consider.
“I think people are starting to understand the risks and rewards of playing football,” Rosenfels said. “In some ways, it’s great for your health in the sense of working out and training -- getting in great physical shape. But there are definitely some negatives and downsides to playing football."
Rosenfels has stayed busy since retiring from the NFL. He does media work, including both radio and television. He is an occasional guest of Twin Cities-based KFAN radio show host Paul Allen.
Rosenfels also stays busy with football, which was apparent as he worked with kids at Spring Valley High School.
“I’m always doing a camp here and there, whether it is with an old teammate or some stuff on my own,” Rosenfels said. “I do some private quarterback training in Omaha and Des Moines (Iowa), also. And probably at some point some up here.”
Event works out for nonprofit
The football instructional event went as well as expected for Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put, said Margy Balwierz.
The effort did its part to help raise money for the Spring Valley nonprofit. Donations for the event included door prizes, hot dogs for the kids and funds for six kids to participate in the camp.
“I think it was very successful,” Balwierz said. “I think that everybody had a good time. I thought it was a good community effort.”
Balwierz added that the nonprofit is always looking for volunteers, including someone who can help build its website.