COPLEY: Former Copley High School and current Indianapolis Colts running back Delone Carter conducted his inaugural football camp at Copley-Fairlawn Middle School on Saturday along with several known athletes from around the area.
Exactly 100 kids ranging from ages 6 to 17 participated in the free camp, sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, which included a day of position drills, exercises on technique, four massive two-hand-touch games between “shirts” and “skins” in different age groups, a free lunch and finally a couple of contests for some signed footballs to end the day.
The talented coaching staff for the camp was made up of former Stow High School graduate and current welterweight champion Shawn “Showtime” Porter (19-0, 15 KOs), former Archbishop Hoban and current Seattle Seahawks running back Tyrell Sutton, former New England Patriots linebacker and president and chief executive of the Leaders of Tomorrow Initiative Jason Carthen, Syracuse defensive back Shamarko Thomas and several others from around Northeast Ohio.
The kids saw the championship belts and Colts jerseys (several members of Carter’s family, wearing his Colts No. 34 jersey, helped run the camp), but it was less about football and more about providing a positive atmosphere for kids in the community, while teaching life skills like leadership and responsibility.
“It’s just a chance to come back home,” Carter said, “and show these kids at a young age that we still care about this community and what we can do and show them ways to stay focused and stay off the streets and get involved in something that’ll get you somewhere.
“We’re here to talk about school and doing something with your life instead of idolizing these music videos and stuff like that.”
Carter’s hope is that by seeing so many local athletes who have been successful and have done things the right way, it’ll inspire them to believe that it can happen to anyone who works hard enough.
“I want them to remember this camp and remember Shawn’s belt, remember me and Tyrell and to let them know that they can do it,” Carter said. “Everything flows together. There are knockdowns like in boxing and touchdowns like in football. It’s just how you face adversity and how you deal with it all. I’m just blessed to be in the NFL.”
Carter’s dad, Robert White, played a big role in putting together and directing the camp, though he says his only title is “Daddy.” White walked around with Carter’s No. 34 Colts jersey with “Blessed” on the back, and he says he couldn’t be happier to see his son playing on Sundays and now getting the chance to give back to the community.
“It’s a dream, baby, it was all a dream to do this,” White said. “Our passion is kids and giving back. We try to live by that and set by example. This is going to be an every-year thing because it’s important to us. There have been some great talents in the area lately, and no one has done a camp like this. It’s a responsibility to give back.”
Porter drew a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the young crowd after he took out his two championship belts and put one over each shoulder. He spoke to the kids with a four-part message based on faith, hard work, dedication and success.
“I wanted to come to show them that I came from where they come from, and if you put your mind to it then you can do it,” Porter said. “It sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Myself and Delone are two testaments to that.”
Porter was a running back in high school while Carter was at Copley, and thought it’d be good to know his competition. They have been friends ever since.
Porter will either fight July 14 in Las Vegas, Nev., on HBO or July 28 in California against Alfonso Gomez on Showtime. Porter is weighing his options, and says he’d love to fight a good name like Gomez, but has also never fought in Vegas.
Importance of education
Sutton was the first to speak to the kids as a group and offered a message that a lot of NFL hopefuls don’t like to hear — football doesn’t last forever, but education does.
“At some point in time, football is gonna be over, so if you don’t have a solid foundation behind you, you’re already going backwards,” Sutton said. “We’ve gone to exceptional colleges and we’ve graduated. Sports will end and you need something to fall back on.”
Making tomorrow’s leaders
Carthen’s non-profit organization, the Leaders of Tomorrow Initiative, teaches a lot of the same things Carter was hoping to portray on Saturday: respect, leadership and teamwork. Carthen was there along with Junior Rank Sports scout Rob. D. Deck, who operates out of Akron.
“We got a call and we thought this was a great opportunity to teach values,” Carthen said. “You see on the news all of these tragedies — we’re trying to stop some of that foolishness and give them intangibles they need.”
Carthen, who received his doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Regent University, is conducting a camp of his own June 27-30 at Kent State University.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.