NFL players draw many to camp

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Kids and pros camp has 130 excited players in Forest

By Mike Forster

Welcome to the big leagues.  The NFL came in force to the fields of the Forest Youth Athletic Association (FYAA) for a four-day Kids & Pros camp.

The marquee names and the opportunity to learn from them resulted in the FYAA being invaded by over 130 campers last week.

The coaching roster included current and former pros such as Buddy Curry (Atlanta Falcons), Eric Matthews (Green Bay Packers), Chris Slade (New England Patriots) and Albert Jennings (New York Giants).

How often do local players get a chance to get up close and personal with the pros?  Not very.

How often do local gridiron aspirants get to hear a motivator such as Curry talk about sportsmanship, perseverance and finishing strong?  Not enough.

“It’s pretty cool to be around the NFL guys,” said Bedford’s Camden Dooley, who is 11 years old.  Dooley also stated that he enjoyed the drills to which he was introduced.  They should help him out when he plays for Liberty High one day.

Jacob Carroll, of New London Academy, seemed to be of the same mind as Dooley.  “Having the NFL players is so neat,” enthused Carroll.  “You see them on TV and now you see them in real life.”  

He reported picking up some new skills, which he’ll use as he plays nose guard and center for the Forest Red.

Will Pfister had a more sanguine attitude about the camp.  “I like being able to come out here, hit the pads and play football,” said Pfister. “I’ve learned a lot of different things here.”

It wasn’t only the younger guys (the camp was for those 13 years of age and younger), though.

Brad Womack, who was a captain of the 2009 Jefferson Forest High team, is now working at becoming a coach.

He was able to help out at the FYAA camp and was spotted working with former pro Vince Brown.

“I’m just trying to get experience for coaching,” said Womack.  “I never thought I’d meet people at this level.”

The JMU student noted that he learned a great deal about drills and things he hadn’t heard of before.

Watching over all of this was FYAA head honcho Tony Taylor.

The always-enthusiastic Taylor seemed tickled by the turnout and how the camp was proceeding.

He was particularly pleased with the diversity of the camp, as it included many participants from Lynchburg.

“The biggest thing is the merger of these kids from the inner city with the Forest kids,” said Taylor.  

As Taylor spoke, it was obvious that the kids got along with each other, no matter where they called home.  Parents, likewise, joined together in their love of football.  

“I wish Washington could see what is going on here,” said Taylor.  “You have to come to a common accord.”

Taylor said he planned to have the same camp next year.  “This will be an on-going thing,” said Taylor, of the first NFL-based camp at Forest since 1999.  “The future is bright.  I couldn’t ask for a better week.”