Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TOP STORY >> Super Bowl star in homecoming

Leader staff writer

Super Bowl champion Clinton McDonald is returning to Jacksonville the week of April 14 for “A Homecoming for a Championship Week.”

The Jacksonville native 2005 graduate of Jacksonville High School will be the guest speaker for the annual Boys and Girls Club of Jacksonville banquet and host a youth football camp to conclude the homecoming week.

All money raised from events will be split between the Boys and Girls Club and Jacksonville High School.

The banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 17 at the Jacksonville Community Center. Tickets are $50, and table sponsorships are available.

The event will include a silent auction, recognition of the club’s volunteer of the year and presentations of the Boys and Girls Club of Jacksonville Scholarship and the Dub Meyers Leadership Scholarship.

McDonald was pleased at being asked to speak. He said, “I attended the Boys and Girls Club from age 6 to 13. The Boys and Girls Club was a place where my friends, my brother and sister and I would go and play with the other children from the neighborhood.”

Two days later, the star will host his second annual Iron Sharpens Iron youth football camp. It starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 19 at Jacksonville High School.

McDonald, a defensive tackle who played for the Seattle Seahawks but recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, explained, “Iron Sharpens Iron comes from a book in the Bible, Proverbs 27:17 — ‘Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.’

“My mother and father would instill the foundation of who God and Christ are in our lives, and this is just one of the verses that really stuck with me over the years,” McDonald said.

Registration for the football camp is $35 per player in advance or $40 on the day of the camp. Register at the Boys and Girls Club or at www.arkansasironsharpenironyouthfc.com.

The camp will teach youngsters playing skills that the NFL, college and high school coaches and players use. Among those scheduled to attend are Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson, retired Carolina Panther defensive back Dante Wesley and former NFL players and Arkansas Razorbacks Anthony Lucas and Matt Jones.

During the camp, parents and students can talk with college recruiters and educators about scholarships, applying for admissions, ACT testing, the athletic recruitment process and financial education. The educational portion of the camp is free and open to the public.

Those registered for the camp will meet and greet NFL players on Friday night, April 18 at Old Chicago Pizza in North Little Rock.

But the homecoming week’s festivities begin at 10 a.m. Monday, April 14 with the retirement of McDonald’s high school basketball and football jerseys at the Jacksonville High School basketball gym. The ceremony is free to attend and open to the public.

The week’s fun continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 15 with a fashion show at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club on 1 Boys Club Drive off Graham Road in Jacksonville.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for 3-year-olds and younger kids. They may be purchased in advance at the club or at the door on the day of the show.

The two-hour show will feature many local vendors and boutiques showing off spring fashions for children and adults. Entertainment includes the Price Brothers of Jacksonville.

Fashion show organizer Whitney Dobbins, a Jackson-ville High graduate, said the show is about appreciating children and their talents. She said there are a lot of local people trying to do different things with their lives.

“Strive to do what you want to. I’ve always been into fashions. If you have the talent, display it and use it to help others,” Dobbins said.

The Boys and Girls Club has 430 children registered members. Annual membership is $30.

The organization is known for its after-school and summer programs for youth. McDonald said he and his siblings took advantage of those programs and others like them.

“We also participated in the summer lunch program that the club offered, which gave the neighborhood children as well as myself an opportunity to eat a free lunch in a safe and friendly environment,” the football star said.
“Some of my favorite memories at the Boys and Girls Club are going to a private airport and actually being able to fly on a propeller plane. I also enjoyed going to interact with different children, some who are still good friends of mine to this day.”

McDonald earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2009 from the University of Memphis. He played football at Memphis and was drafted in 2009 by the Cincinnati Bengals.