Saturday, September 19, 2020

Campers Learn Life Lessons From Ex-NFL Players


Photos by Quentin Roux | Jimmie Bell and Steve Grant (floppy hat) conduct a prayer circle before the start of a Marco YMCA football camp session.

Neighbors might have wondered what all the bellowing was about.

But a closer look would have revealed former NFL players Steve Grant and Jimmie Bell putting young Y football campers through their paces.

And they weren’t shy with the vocal volume, but isn’t that how coaches get the message across?

On the surface, it might have been a camp with drills, strategy and assorted plays – but Bell and Grant brought along another message.

“This is more than football, this is about life,” said Bell during one of the frequent drink breaks on a particularly hot Tuesday during the recent camp.

“What the kids go through here, they can apply to their lives, their parents, their schoolwork – so this really is much more than a camp.”

Bell and Grant have visited the South Collier YMCA (the Marco Y) for the past six years as representatives of Sports World Inc., a faith-based non-profit aimed at helping students see the value of making positive choices in their life.

“Our focus,” says the organization’s mission statement, “is not to create shame for making bad decisions, but to show students they can choose a better way.”



Football campers fly by during one of the drills.

The tagline sums it up too: “You’re not born a winner, you’re not born a loser, you’re born a chooser.”

Bell (Chargers and Giants – “and you have to mention that I’m an Ohio State Buckeye”) and Grant (Colts and Bucs), have noted with pride and pleasure how some of the Marco kids have matured down the years.

“It’s awesome to see how these kids have grown,” said Bell, citing regular camper Tebow Morris as just one example. “The maturity and confidence we see is just amazing.”

Not forgetting that football is obviously on the minds of the campers as well.

Brody Thein said he enjoyed the first day, which focused heavily on catching, and said he plans to play football.

“I want to be a wide receiver,” he said.

Bell encouraged people to visit the sportsworld.org website to find out more about the organization, which to date has inspired more than 200,000 youngsters around the country.

For more on the Y’s wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.

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