Sand Hills, FL---So many youth football players wish and dream to put an NFL jersey over their pads, and reach the highest level of the game they love. But so few, are willing to put in the work to get there. So few, have the opportunity to learn from those who have.
Yet at Bozeman all weekend, Graceville native and Denver Broncos Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Champ Kelly is holding his 5th annual C.H.A.M.P Camp, giving locals as young as 10 to as old as 18 a chance to improve under those who know, and even play the game best.
That company includes those living the NFL dream as reality, like Pittsburgh Steeler Steve McLendon. The 5th year defensive tackle from Ozark, Alabama didn't just teach, but also worked alongside the campers.
McLendon and Kelly go back to the beginning of camp's history, as each have a passion for passing along what they know to the kids who've got next.
"Steve actually came out to our initial C.H.A.M.P. Camp in Graceville. So he's an original C.H.A.M.P. Camp guy," says Kelly.
"These kids are the next generation," says McLendon. "You always want to help someone to be competitive or get better at their craft. And also, not just them getting better, I'm getting better also. I'm out here working with them, out out here putting in some work in this hot sun. I have an upcoming season also. They have an upcoming season also. They can see what it really takes to be here They see that I'm doing the same exact thing."
"Football stays the same, regardless of what level you play at. It can be junior high, flag football, to the NFL, it's the same stuff. It's all about how you apply yourself," says Kelly.
The joy for the camp's coaches like McLendon and Kelly is to see the players not just improve themselves on the field, but off it, too.
"Once they see you put your hand down and you get down there with them, and you show them exactly what you want them to do, and you compete with them, it gives them that much more extra motivation because they're gonna try to beat you," says McLendon. "And that's what I love, to get your best foot forward and get the best out of these young kids."
"Our coaches challenge the kids," says Kelly. " We'll hear a speaker, the coaches come out on the field and they challenge those kids to really apply what they've just learned. From the time that they show up to the C.H.A.M.P. camp Friday morning, to the time they leave on Saturday morning, they're different young men."
Activity wrapped Saturday at 2:30 PM.