For NFL players such as the Denver Broncos’ Omar Bolden and the Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner giving back to their alma mater of Colony High School and the local community is becoming an annual event.
The former Titans teammates hosted their second annual youth football camp together at the school Saturday as a way to reach out to the community and provide opportunities they did not have during their childhood.
“It means a lot to me. I wanted to be the face of this because when I was growing up we did not really have guys come back in any sport (to hold camps),” Wagner said. “Omar and I came up with the idea to try and be the people the community can look up too.”
Colony defensive coordinator Tamoi Hicks stated that this year’s camp was a bit different than the previous year.
“Last year was a little different, we had grouped all the kids together but this year we did it in a two-session format,” Hicks said. “I think it was a little more organized. That way you don’t have a big influx of kids and it is more personable with the NFL players being with the kids.”
The biggest difference was the size of the event which had more than 500 campers sign up. The inaugural event was capped at 250 participants last year.
“It was a great experience and a great turnout,” Bolden said. “I think it was a success and it was a lot of fun.”
Those who did participate were given backpacks and had the chance to interact with Wagner and Bolden among other NFL players.
“It is amazing. We were all in their shoes at one time,” Bolden said. “Just being able to give back and share my experiences and the mistakes I made along the way … I think it is important.”
Among the NFL players in attendance were Jordan Campbell (Washington Redskins, Norco High) and Chris Carter (Cincinnati Bengals, Kaiser High).
“It is a blessing to come back to the Inland Empire and help out your friends and guys you genuinely care about,” Carter said. “Also it is great for us because we genuinely care about the success of the youth and the people that grew up in our neighborhood.”
Campbell is the founder of Winner Circle Athletics and had several members of his staff help run the individual drills at the camp.
“My mission for starting Winner Circle Athletics was to give the kids and everyone in the community something I really did not have growing up,” Campbell said. “I had to figure out what camps were available and able to help me get as much exposure as possible just to get better and compete at a high level.”
Participants such as incoming Rancho Cucamonga High freshman P.J. Kaufusi stated he was grateful for the experience and the chance to learn from the professional athletes.
“Just having all the NFL players come out and take their time to teach kids like me is really positive and holds a positive effect on all the kids that came out to the camp,” Kaufusi said.
The players and coach not only talked about the game of football. They also stressed the importance of education.
“These guys are doing a lot of amazing things in the world for us,” said incoming Summit freshman Christian Johnson. “Helping us young guys not just focus on football but on our education and I really appreciate that.”
Players such as Carter attend camps with the hopes that they can make a difference in the life of the youth they come across and motivate them to reach for their dreams.
“These kids grew up just like we did. In the same towns as us and in the same high schools as us,” Carter said. “Anytime we get the opportunity to give back to these kids and give them the opportunity to dream just like us, when the rest of the world was telling them ‘do not dream too much and be realistic,’… and we can come out and contradict that and tell them ‘Hey. reach for the stars’ we are all about that.”