On Monday, Broncos rookies and Owner Carrie Walton Penner visited the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club to observe its Juneteenth celebration and play games with the kids.
DENVER — For several of the Broncos' rookies, Monday's visit to the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club felt like a full-circle moment.
As Denver's rookie class made its first trip to the Boys & Girls Club on Juneteenth, safety JL Skinner, cornerback Art Green and running back Jaleel McLaughlin were back where their own dreams began.
Skinner, Green and McLaughlin all attended Boys & Girls Clubs during their childhoods, and their return to the organization helped put them in their old shoes.
"When you're back in your Boys & Girls Club days, you kind of just dream of moments like this, being able to make it and even come back and even see the Boys & Girls Club now," Skinner said. "For me, it's kind of like a full-circle thing.
"… The Boys & Girls Club [is] a part of me today, made me part of who I am today. It's been really good to come back and really visit the place and really look around."
Their connection — and the example it may set for the current youth at the Boys & Girls Club — can have a major impact, according to CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver Erin Porteous.
"It's truly incredible," Porteous said. "What those young men know is the important role the Club plays for boys and girls who are in their formative years and for them to now be able to be experts and pros in their own right and come back and give to the community the way they probably experienced that as a kid, it means so much to the next generation."
Skinner attended a Boys & Girls Club in Virginia for three or four years, and he said he remains in contact with several of his friends that he made as a kid.
"Honestly, back then I was just playing football to have fun," Skinner said, "so I didn't even think about being a professional athlete, but now being a professional athlete and coming back and seeing really your roots and what made you today, it's kind of just [like] your home. It's really special to me. I feel like a little kid going back in there. I was about to have more fun than the kids."
Green, whose Club was in St. Louis, said the football career that led him to the Broncos first began at his local Boys & Girls Club.
"I had a lot of opportunity and met a lot of kids obviously," Green said. "That's what started my football career, basically. It was a great starting point for me."
Green said he was able to relate to the kids he met Monday, as their experiences weren't so different than his own.
"Just seeing everything that they have and everything that they do, I was doing the same thing," Green said. "I kind of understand them."
McLaughlin went to a Boys & Girls Club in Cumberland County, North Carolina, and he said he spent Fridays and time during the summer making friends and having a great time at the Club.
Perhaps that's why, on Monday, McLaughlin and his teammates were in agreement that they enjoyed their time at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls club as much — or more — than the youth.
"To the kids, this means the world to them," McLaughlin said. "And to me, it means the world as well. Just to be able to connect with them on a different level has been awesome."