Not many people can gather together a high caliber of athletes like this, said volunteer Darryl Mackey.
The high caliber of athletes was gathered at West Potomac High School by former Wolverine and current Toronto Argonaut Willie Pile. His company, the Pile Group, held their first annual Xs and Os Life Skills Football Camp on Saturday, May 19. Campers ranged from age 7 to rising high school freshman and were put through a variety of drills by current and former NFL players. These players included former Virginia Tech standouts James Anderson, linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, Keith Burnell former running back for the Baltimore Ravens and Bryan Randall, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Current Virginia Tech wide receiver, Josh Morgan was also on hand to help instruct.
While the campers were receiving excellent instruction from some of the best college and professional players, local high school players were also in attendance to demonstrate the drills and reinforce the lessons. Eight high schools were represented including West Potomac, Edison and Mount Vernon High Schools.
Rising senior Robert Byrd said he was there to help out and learn from the older players. He went on to say that, not many people graduate and return to give back to the community.
Former Hokie and current Carolina Panther linebacker James Anderson said he was there to be a part of a positive experience for kids that Willie has created with this camp. They will all benefit from the goal setting and positive reinforcement.
All of the campers were broken into groups by age level and given position specific instruction. There were enough volunteer coaches that each camper received individualized attention and encouragement. In addition to the group instruction, each time the groups rotated, a principle from Piles book, The Winning Game Plan, was emphasized over the loud speaker. We want them to have fun but we also want them to learn something, Pile said.
The camp also attracted a lot of local volunteers. Each sponsoring organization sent volunteers to help register campers and pass out drinks and food. Nate Wilson, President of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce said, We dont have enough people in Willies position, giving back. He went on to say that, Willie is using sports as a vehicle to teach the kids a lesson in setting and realizing goals.
Each camper received a copy of Piles book in order to reinforce the lessons taught throughout the day and to ensure that they would use the skills long after the camp was over. Pile told the campers, You have to want to be successful.