Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SPORTS STORTS >> McDonald camp a big hit

Leader sports editor

Amazing what a Super Bowl championship can do for one’s public profile. The evidence of it was on display Saturday at the second annual Clinton McDonald Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football Camp. McDonald, who in January won the Super Bowl as the starting nose tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, hosted approximately 130 young people from the central Arkansas area at Jacksonville High School’s Jan Crow Stadium.

A number of obstacles and roadblocks hampered the planning of the first McDonald camp that ended up being moved to Dupree Park because of Arkansas High School Activities Association’s prohibitive rules. Only about 20 to 25 kids attended that first camp, but Jan Crow Stadium was buzzing with activities on Saturday.

“It’s just by the grace of God that we have the opportunity to give back to the community like this,” said McDonald. As the campers gathered in the bleachers before lunch and in between morning and afternoon sessions, McDonald and the rest of the camp instructors each took a turn stressing the importance of self-discipline, education and faith.

“All of these men down here are telling you all important lessons on how to go about your lives the right way,” McDonald said. “But the most important thing you can do is walk every day with God and do what you can do to glorify Him. That’s why we’re here today, to try to give back and thank God and give Him the glory for the success we’ve had.”

Like last year, McDonald’s colleagues in the NFL, Michael Johnson and Demetrius Harris, also taught stations at the camp.

Harris is also a graduate of JHS and spent his rookie season last year on the Kansas City Chiefs’ developmental squad – the same way McDonald spent his first season in Cincinnati after being drafted out of Memphis University in the seventh and final round.

Former Arkansas Razorback and Green Bay Packer wide receiver Anthony Lucas also volunteered at the camp, as did McDonald’s older brother Cleyton, who played college ball at Mississippi Valley State and is now an Arkansas state trooper. Clinton McDonald’s former teammate at Memphis and current personal trainer Abraham Holloway was also on hand for the second-straight year. Holloway lost more than 100 pounds after graduating as a 320-pound offensive lineman.

Cleyton McDonald stressed an acronym he practices, W.I.N.

“Y’all all like to win don’t you?” Cleyton asked the campers. “Well let me tell you what else winning means. It means ‘What’s Important Now’. We’ve talked a lot about following your dreams, and some of you have dreams of playing in the NFL. But let me tell you something. None of you are going to be in the NFL in the next few years. That’s just a fact. So what you have to focus on is what’s important now, in order for me to achieve that dream. And that’s listening to your parents, and listening to your teachers and getting that work done and developing good habits at home and in the classroom. Everyone you see here today talking to you has been through college. And you have to do the things that are important now to get to college and be successful to even have a chance to reach that dream.”

After lunch campers went back to the field for more work on running and blocking technique, route running, taught by Lucas and Harris, and learned tips on improving 40-yard dash times.