The football field at Monroe High School was active yesterday with area youth participating in the third-annual Harry Stevens Youth Football Camp.
Smiles and laughter filled the air as Union County elementary and middle-school youth ran through football drills and received instruction from coaches and former county football stars a few of whom now play in the National Football League.
The sights and sounds are music to the ears of the camp’s founder, Roderick Heath who doesn’t make one penny off the camp. “It’s not about the money all the time, it’s about the time,” said Heath who conceived of the idea of the Harry Stevens Youth Football Camp a few years ago. A former student-athlete himself at Monroe High School Heath wanted to give back to the youth of Monroe and Union County. “People spend time doing what they love and this is what I love.”
The focus was on middle-school youth who he wanted to impact with a sense of community, teamwork, focus and a sense of family. In its third season, the Harry Steven camp has attracted local community support via volunteering time, donating food and money for such a great event.
In the case of Jamison Crowder (Washington Redskins), Darius Kilgo (New England Patriots) and Marcus Leak (Indianapolis Colts) all three former county football stars now in the NFL, their physical presence, advice, and instruction to the youth are invaluable to impressionable young athletes.
Crowder, who played at Monroe, donated Addidas sports bags and a signed pair of gloves and cleats to the camp’s top performers. Kilgo, a two-time Super Bowl winner who played at Weddington High School and Marcus Leak who played at Parkwood assisted Crowder and coaches throughout the morning.
Heath’s camp is an extension of his non-profit organization called Generation Uplift that provides outreach and mentor programs within the community.