Prison is hardly a place where inmates expect to be set free.
“If he sees some good in you, he’s going to give you some words of advice,” Sean Scott, an inmate at the Roxbury Correctional Institution, said.
But with some tough love, Lt. Kellar Covington is instructing inmates to let go of their shackles and become better members of society.
“He’ll make sure you adhere to them because he’s going to come back and ask you,” Scott said.
He calls Covington’s words of advice ‘dropping jewels’ because after 19 years on the job, Lt. Covington shares the hard truth.
“[Prison] takes you away from your family,” Covington said.
But a lot of the lessons he preaches to these inmates, he did not learn while on the clock.
“I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and if it wasn’t for the little [football] programs like that when I was growing-up, I could have ended up in that same situation,” Covington said.
For the past eight years, Lt. Covington has been trading in his uniform for a football cap after work and transforming into Coach Kellar for the Hagerstown Giants.
Players said he teaches better tackling techniques and also how to be teammates on and off the field.
“He’s been like a dad to me,” running back Collin Smith said. “[He’s] just a nice person, with a good personality, always trying to help somebody.”
If they want to learn more from his leadership, players better be exercising their minds in the classroom as much as their bodies on the field.
“We had one kid who had to bring us his homework,” Covington said.
Otherwise, they can expect to sit out a play, a game or even a season.
“If I get a bad grade, he’ll be like, ‘If you’re trying to go here, you need to get that up,’” Smith said.
Covington hopes the lessons his players learn on the football field make it so that they don’t fumble in the future.
“You will not win every game, even though we’re undefeated right now,” Covington said.
The Giants made it all the way to the Washington County Junior Football League Championship this year.
Players were feeling pretty positive about that victory.
“It’s not a thing. We’re about to win,” Smith said.
With confidence like that, one can’t argue with logic like this.
“If we can reach the kids in the neighborhood through sports, then we’re good,” Covington said.
The Hagerstown Giants B Team was proud to report that they won the Championship game on Monday night 33 to 30 against the Hagerstown Packers.
The Hagerstown Giants A Team also took home the gold against the Boonsboro Titans 36 to 20.