Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013 3:33 pm
by Dustin Kent
Former Graceville Tigers football star Anthony “Champ” Kelly is bringing his “C.H.A.M.P. Camp” back to the Panhandle for a fourth consecutive year June 28-29 at Deane Bozeman High School in Panama City.
The two-day instructional camp is being moved to Panama City after previously being held at Graceville High School in order to expand the camp’s appeal by centralizing its location, Kelly said Friday.
“We wanted to stretch it to some other places in North Florida, and we thought (Panama City) would be a good area to reach out to,” he said. “We can still get the same kids we’ve attracted in the past from Graceville, but we can pick up some more Panama City kids and get some more Jackson County folks involved. It’s more convenient for us and it’s also allowing us to reach another demographic of kids.
“We were contacted by some of those coaches (in the Panama City area) and they were excited about it. I think change is good and the vision for this camp was to move it around across North Florida and the Wiregrass and be as impactful as we could be.”
It won’t be the last move for the event, Kelly said, mentioning Marianna and Dothan as possible future locations.
“We’re not going to be static and just stay in one place,” he said. “We’re going to keep our options open.”
Another big change in the camp this year is the cost – as in, there isn’t one – with it now completely free for the first time thanks to sponsorship funding.
It’s a goal that Kelly, now Assistant Director of Pro Personnel with the NFL’s Denver Broncos, said he had been working toward for some time.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to provide a camp of our caliber totally free,” he said. “It’s amazing. It’s something we talked about last year, but we weren’t in a position to do it completely free, but we stepped out on faith this year and I think it’s the perfect time to have it for free. I’m really excited about what’s going to take place.”
The camp will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day, with campers getting run through a wide range of individual and group drills led by guest instructors with high-level coaching and/or playing experience, such as Clark-Atlanta head coach Kevin Weston and current Broncos defensive backs Tony Carter and Chris Harris.
There will be different drills for the different age groups, with the younger kids (ages 10-12) working more on basic football fundamentals, and the older group (13-17) doing more in-depth and advanced work.
“We’ll have some competitive one-on-one situations with the line and the skill positions, and toward the end of the day we’ll have some 7-on-7 stuff,” Kelly said. “Most camps don’t touch on every position group and have quality coaches at every position, but we’ll bring quality coaches in for every position on the football field. That’s the exciting part for us. Just having the opportunity to present that to kids in the area for free is absolutely amazing.”
Kelly said he hopes to continue well into the future with the camp, which has become a deeply personal undertaking for him.
“It means everything to me. I’m completely invested in these kids and seeing them develop into productive men and citizens,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to produce with these camps. When I was growing up, I didn’t have opportunities to go to camps like this because they cost a lot of money. I wanted to and felt like I could’ve learned a lot, but I couldn’t afford them.
“Now, everything has sort of come full circle with me being able to provide that for some kid growing up in a situation like I was in then. It’s truly a testament to God’s grace. It’s about giving back, which is a major part of who I am and what I do.”
With longevity Kelly said he hopes comes expansion and even further growth of the camp to include more players and coaches participating.
“I want coaches around the area to realize that this is a real football camp and the kids are getting real instruction and learning real football, yet also getting an element of life skills that they’re probably not going to see at most camps around,” he said. “Pretty soon, I’d like to have six or seven complete football teams attend this camp. We can do some really fun and creative stuff if we can get to that position. That’s eventually where we want to go.
“There are a ton of different places we can go, but it really takes a commitment from people in the area. It’s a great opportunity to learn from people who have done it and some who still do it at a high level.”
To register for the camp, visit heartpowerinc.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 720-524-7139.