Youngkin calls on coaches to send the message on fentanyl

It might have seemed an unexpected place to talk about a deadly scourge — the Richmond Kickers field to mark National Fentanyl Awareness Day — but for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, it was an opportunity to reach out to a group that he believes will make the difference: coaches.

They’re the same kind of people who Youngkin, a former high school and college basketball player, says mentored him so many times when he was a teenager — when “I probably spent more time with the coaches and teammates than with my parents,” he told a gathering of college, high school and other youth sports coaches at City Stadium.


Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to coaches and athletic directors at City Stadium on Tuesday in observance of National Fentanyl Awareness Day. On stage are, from left, William & Mary football coach Mike London, Youngkin, first lady Suzanne Youngkin and Rob Ukrop, president and CEO of the Richmond Kickers.


And, at the end of the day, he sent them out with three immediate tasks.

The first is to talk to their teams about the dangers of fentanyl and more particularly the fatal risk linked to painkillers that they may have purchased online or from a friend, rather than on a doctor’s prescription and under the watchful eye of a pharmacist.

People also read…

“It’s a very short speech: you can die if you’re stupid. Don’t be stupid,” he said.

The second: that each coach designate a member of the team as a point person – a sort of ambassador – to continue to spread the word about the dangers of fentanyl and encourage his teammates to learn what an overdose looks like and how to remedy it with the naloxone.

Third: take the message about the dangers of fentanyl, what an overdose looks like and how to treat it, to the many summer camps that will soon begin operating.

xgr fentanyl

Youngkin family friends Delaine and Tom Mazich posed for a photo in February. They have been spreading awareness about the dangers of fentanyl since their son, Greyson, died after taking a painkiller containing the deadly substance.


It was the death of a young man who went to school with Youngkin’s own children — and played youth sports with them — that shocked the governor and first lady Suzanne Youngkin, who pushed her to fight against the dangers of fentanyl.

Greyson Mazich, a senior at Clemson University who previously captained varsity football and rugby teams at Georgetown Prep, took a pill he thought was the painkiller Percocet to treat some back pain.

But the pill contained fentanyl.

“He never woke up,” Greyson’s father, Tom Mazich, said at the assembly Tuesday.

“Coaches, you need to know that this is something that’s happening in your world, too,” Tom Mazich said.

“One pill, one mistake can kill you.”

College of William & Mary head football coach Mike London, who previously coached teams at the University of Richmond and the University of Virginia, asked his colleagues not to be complacent when a player responds to the question “How are you?” with a “Very good”.

“We need to talk about mental health, what they’re putting into their bodies, to tell us if they’re sleep deprived,” he said.

There are many ways to determine whether a casual “Very good” response really isn’t appropriate, he said.


Gov. Glenn Youngkin said coaches are uniquely positioned to warn athletes about the dangers of fentanyl.


Youngkin recalled his own coaches — including one at Rice University who dissuaded him from transferring after a disappointing freshman year with the blunt advice: “Don’t be a baby.” »

He said coaches are in a unique position to protect young people from the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs.

“What you’re doing is more than just teaching someone how to execute a back cut,” he said, referring to a basketball move in which a player who doesn’t have the ball opens by taking a quick step toward the ball handler, then immediately moving. towards the basket.

And continuing the theme of the fentanyl awareness campaign: “It only takes one,” he told the coaches:

“It only takes one pill to kill, it only takes one bad decision… but on the other hand, it only takes one person who tells someone, who then says he didn’t know.”