NFL players treat kids to campPublished 8:45pm Saturday, May 11, 2013
For Terrance Copper, there was a never a question he’d be back to host a second NFL weekend for local kids.
Last June, he and thirteen other NFL players descended upon Washington, played a surprisingly competitive Washington police and fire department team in an exhibition basketball game one night, then opened up the field and the gates at Washington High School the next morning to host a football camp for anyone aged 7 to 17 who wanted to attend.
They all had such a good time last year, they took up his invitation to do it again, according to Copper.
“Everybody’s excited about it. It’s going to be a fun weekend,” Copper said.
From 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14, the Washington waterfront will be the scene of the weekend’s kick-off: a meet and greet with free hot dogs, drinks, souvenirs and plenty of opportunity to get autographs from the 13 players, many of whom play with Copper on the Kansas City Chiefs; others, teammates from his East Carolina University days.
After the waterfront event, the game is on at 8 p.m. at Washington High School with a rematch between Copper and friends and the team from Washington police and fire. Last year’s game came down to the wire, with the NFL team barely edging out the other team for a 100-95 win.
But the real work comes the next day, at camp the next day. It’s free; it’s open to any child age 7 to 17; the only requirement is registering beforehand. Fun and games aside, it’s the camp that fulfills a higher purpose for the visiting NFL players: it’s a chance for them to reach out to kids and serve as example of what they could be.
“You know, it’s something that we want to do, just to show kids that there’s something out there besides the streets, besides trouble. Whatever you aspire to be, it’s achievable. If you have your heart set on something and you want to do it — you can,” Copper said. “We’ve all been blessed. That’s the reason that God put us in a certain position: to inspire kids to want to do better in life.”
The message is one that Washington Police Department’s outreach coordinator, Kimberly Grimes, believes in strongly. Grimes serves as organizer of the weekend event — in its second year, the process is a lot smoother and there’s a lot more interest from people both inside the community and elsewhere, she said.
“We’ve already had some good responses. Other counties want to get their kids involved—parents have already called in, wanting to register their child for the camp,” Grimes said. “Now that people are really hearing about it, I think we’re going to have a huge turnout this year.”
Grimes said her role as outreach coordinator requires her to come up with new and different ways for the police department to reach out to the community. It just so happened that Copper’s ideas fell in line with her own.
“The more things you can do, the better,” Grimes said. “You want to think outside the box. The things the police and fire department are doing — it’s not the norm. I think we’re setting a trend here, because we’re stepping outside of the box.”
Another trend in the making may just be the intense competition of the exhibition basketball game, a factor that Copper said came as quite a surprise last year.
“(The police and fire team), they couldn’t miss a shot,” Copper said. “It turned out to be a really good game. It was a fun game to play and a fun game to watch.
But make sure you tell the WPD that we’re ready for all surprises,” he laughed.
For more information about the foot ball camp, call Kimberly Grimes at 252-943-1715. Registration forms are available at the Washington Police Department, 201 West Third Street.