Young athletes learn teamwork, leadership at ProCamp

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
More than 100 children swarmed onto one of the base's football fields for a free National Football League ProCamp, July 16 and 17.

Boys and girls, from the first through eighth grades, performed passing, receiving and defensive drills, all while learning the value of teamwork and leadership with the help of the camp's featured athlete, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back, Cortez Allen.

"The kids are excited about being here, ready to work and excited about competing," Allen said as the camp began. "That's the beauty of things like this, when you can be active and be healthy, and still have a lot of fun."

ProCamps for football, basketball and other sports are hosted across the U.S. and internationally to give children once-in-a-lifetime skill training with professional athletes.

Being a football camp, it was only fitting that this camp should begin with a "draft," where the young athletes lined up and counted off to join teams named after those Allen has played for. After meeting their volunteer coaches and performing some light calisthenics, it was time for feet to start shuffling and passes to start flying.

"We went over offensive drills, defensive drills and receiving drills," said Quinn, one of the camp's young participants. "We worked on getting into the right stance and a lot of techniques you need to learn in football."

Allen said he has volunteered at several camps with other athletes, but interacting with military children was a unique experience.

"They go through different things like having family overseas, not being able to see their parents and other things like that, so it was good to put a smile on their face," Allen said. "I couldn't even compare it to being on the field. They see you on TV, but everybody sees that. Actually being able to run with them and sweat with them, I think they receive that very well."

It would seem the children agree.

"He was very cool," Quinn said. "He was very helpful, especially when it came to stuff I needed to work on like shuffling my feet or watching the defense."

In addition to catching snaps and blocking tackles, the athletes were also coached on staying healthy and maintaining a fun and active lifestyle.

"I take this a lot more to heart than being on the field," Allen said. "I love what I do, but I love being with kids and giving back to communities. I'm extremely blessed and fortunate to have been a part of this."

From the draft to the drills, and from two-handed tag to a celebratory pizza party, Quinn and other children deemed the ProCamp a success.

"I had a wonderful time," Quinn said. "It was probably one of the best camps I've ever been to."