Youngsters learn from football heroes

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

COACH KELVIN COCHRAN, who coordinated activities at Saturday’s fifth annual James Butler Dream Foundation free football camp for kids, gets together with Butler and three other former Bearcats and current professional football players who instructed at the camp. From left are Malcolm Sheppard of the Tennessee Titans, Ray Dominguez of the Green Bay Packers, Darryl Gamble of the San Diego Chargers and James Butler.

More than 100 Bainbridge and Decatur County youngsters had the opportunity to learn from their local professional football heroes Satuday at Centennial Field.

James Butler, a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back who went on to win a Super Bowl championship with the New York Giants, and also played with the St. Louis Rams, was holding his fifth annual Dream Foundation free football camp for kids.

The Foundation benefits youth, low-income families and literacy.

Joining Butler for this year’s camp were the three newest members of his Dream Foundation’s board of directors, former Bearcats and Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Darryl Gamble of the San Diego Chargers, former Bearcats and Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard of the Tennessee Titans and former Bearcats and Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Ray Dominguez of the Green Bay Packers.

Butler said this year’s camp and the previous four before it are geared toward reaching one specific goal.

“At these camps, our main purpose, along with encouraging the youngsters to always strive to do the right thing among their peers, in the classroom, on the athletic field or in any other extracurricular activities they are involved in, is to get them excited about football and staying in shape,” he said. “With that in mind we send them through various football agility drills and get them excited about the game.

“Bainbridge High School and the people of Bainbridge and Decatur County supported us so much when we came along and we are excited to give something back to today’s kids.”

The drills emphasized proper running formation, proper lateral movement and proper stretching of the hamstrings.

The final event of the day was a punt, pass and kick competition.

Bearcats strength and conditioning coach and Lady Cats head basketball coach Kelvin Cochran, who coached all four professional players at Bainbridge High School and coordinated Saturday’s activities, termed the day a huge success.

“The willingness of our former Bearcats professional football players to come back and support the kids of today is a tribute to their caring and character,” he said.