Faith & Football – OU, NFL players teach Salvation Army youth character, sports at summer football camp

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Boys & Girls Club, How We Help, News, Success Stories, Uncategorized, Volunteerism

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For former University of Oklahoma Sooner Football star Jacob Gutierrez, the idea of sharing not only the basic skills of football, but his faith through football was too dear to his heart to pass up.

Gutierrez, along with the NFL’s Detroit Lions Tight End Joe Jon Finley and former NFL Running Back Leon Johnson, spent three days at The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma’s Boys & Girls Club to host a football camp for more than 30 12-17 year old boys.

“This week, we have a three-day football camp, and the kids get to meet former and current NFL players and University of Oklahoma players to work on drills, stance and agility,” said Myron Mosely, athletic director for the Army’s Boys & Girls Club.

“A friend introduced me to Jacob and told him what we were doing with the kids here at the club. We both decided a football camp was a great idea.”

At the camp, Boys & Girls Club members worked on agility, correct stance, endurance and tackles. Although the basic skills of football are important, Gutierrez said he hoped the boys would learn why faith is important in their lives as well.

“Football is an important part of my life, and faith is an important part of my life, so having the football camp with The Salvation Army was a perfect fit,” Gutierrez said.

“Sometimes, when you put a Bible in front of a kid, it can be hard for them to relate. But, if you take something they love, like football, and tie it in with Scripture, it hits home for them. We discuss Scripture every day and then apply it to sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership and working hard.”

The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma’s Boys & Girls Club debuted the football camp this year, but Mosely hopes to make the OU/NFL camp a yearly tradition.

With current and former NFL players participating, he said the free football camp was another way to reach at-risk youth.

“Hopefully, they learn about leadership, teamwork and discipline,” Mosely said. “They are learning the fundamentals of football, but our message is that we are here to help them in positive ways. It’s another way to get the kids off the streets and doing something that will help them in the future.”

Joe Jon Finley of the Detroit Lions helped youth with their tackles and footwork during the camp, but his goal was showing the athletes how fun football could be.

“I hope they have fun first of all,” Finley said. “Football is a fun game, but secondly, I want them to have good role models. I want them to learn that if you do the right thing, then good things can happen.”

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