Tuesday, June 04, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Seahawk lineman hosting camp

Leader sports editor

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is hosting his very first “Iron Sharpens Iron” Football Camp at Dupree Park in Jacksonville on Wednesday, June 19. McDonald is a 2005 graduate of Jacksonville High School, where he was a star linebacker for the Red Devils.

The title of the camp comes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Chapter 27 verse 17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

It’s a verse that’s frequently used by McDonald and one he uses in his approach to his profession. McDonald quoted the passage when talking with Seahawks Insiders reporter Tony Ventrella last season about how the Seahawks’ defensive linemen work together to make each other better players.

With the camp slogan being, “Fortitude through Family and Friends”, McDonald’s camp promises to be about more than football skills.

“God’s blessed me with this ability, great parents, a great family,” said McDonald. “I feel like any chance I have to give back, I need to do it.”

McDonald’s mother Bonnie McDonald, the passage from Proverbs is a scripture she gave her two oldest sons when they were very young. She often applies scripture to the lives of her six children to infuse meaning into all aspects of life.

“When Cleyton, 28, and Clinton, 26, were growing up, that was the scripture I gave them because they were always so competitive with each other,” Bonnie McDonald said. “It took it from being just a competition and one beating the other one, to the two of them helping to improve each other.”

When McDonald was drafted out of Memphis University by the Cincinnati Bengals, that scripture was on the wall in the team locker room.

McDonald just signed a one-year restricted free agent contract that will keep him in Seattle through the 2013-14 season. It will be his fifth season in the NFL after spending two with Cincinnati and two in Seattle.

At 6-foot-2, 297 pounds, Clinton started one game last season, but got plenty of playing time. He played 298 snaps on defense. Undersized for his position, but the strongest player on the team, McDonald is used primarily in run-stopping situations.

The camp was originally scheduled for two days at Jacksonville High School, but the dates fell in the dead period enforced by the Arkansas High School Activities Association. The dead period is a two-week period in the summer when high-school and junior high athletes are not allowed on high school campuses or any contact with high school coaches.

After initially canceling the event, Jacksonville athletic director Jerry Wilson and Bonnie McDonald got together with the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation department and worked out the current date.

“It’s a skills camp and then he’s basically going to give his story of living through perseverance regardless of obstacles that come up in life,” Bonnie McDonald said.

She gave one example.

“When he was drafted, people told him of all the places Cincinnati is the worst one you could’ve gone to,” Bonnie said. “I told him don’t look at it like that, and I gave him the story of Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Israel. He was a son, but he was not among them. But he still accomplished great things and ended up saving his family’s life. So where you’re at has nothing to do with who you are. Joseph wasn’t among Israel, but he was still Joseph.

“Clinton wasn’t where he wanted to be, but he could still exemplify strong character. And even though he was cut and relegated to the practice squad his first year, he still went out and met the team plane every time they got back from a trip, because that was his team. And he was going to support his teammates.”

While at Cincinati, McDonald forged a strong friendship with fellow lineman Michael Johnson, who still plays with the Bengals.

Johnson will also be at the camp, returning the favor of Clinton helping with Johnson’s camp every year in his hometown of Selma, Ala.

Session one is for kids ages 8 to 12 and will run from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Session two is for ages 13 to 17 and will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Camp awards will be given out in the last few minutes of each session. Early registration fee is $25, with the early registration deadline being Friday, June 14.

After that date, registration will be $30.

Camp T-shirts will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. All proceeds for the camp benefit the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

All interested campers can register at the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation department at 5 Municipal Drive in Jacksonville.

For more information, contact the parks and recreation office at 501-982-4171 or Bonnie McDonald at 501-247-3295.