Kids strive to reach potential at Witten Camp

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SP0616 Jason Witten Camp D

“Everyone has potential.” That was the motto during Saturday’s 13th annual SCORE Foundation Football Camp, a camp that is held each year by Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten at Brown Childress Stadium. The camp is free to any kid wanting to develop his football skills.

“In the game of football, no matter someone’s size or speed, there is a position for everyone,” Witten said to a group of eager 13-18-year-olds.

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Roughly 1,000 kids, ranging from the ages of 7 to 18, took to Dave Rider Field, where they received instruction from many successful coaches and players. The camp has grown into one of the nation’s largest free football camps.

Among the instructors was University of Tennessee lineman Matt Crowder, who, when he was younger, attended the Witten Camp. Crowder, who is a senior at UT, helped young players work on their form and techniques.

Growing up, Crowder said he had many people who helped him learn the game of football, and he enjoys being able to return the favor to the young generation of players.

“I had a lot of knowledge of the game come from a lot of different people,” Crowder said. “I feel like now I’m in a position that I can give some of that knowledge back.”

The stands inside Brown Childress were filled with parents wanting to see their kids participate in the camp, but there were also a lot of Dallas Cowboy fans wanting to get a peek at the Pro Bowler.

Also on hand to help out were recent Elizabethon High School graduates and former EHS Cyclone football players, Ethan Thomas, Logan Birchfield, and Chris Cifers.

According to Jason Witten, the camp teaches young players more than just football.

“We focus on football, but more importantly we focus on life lessons,” Witten, the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, said. “It is a great opportunity for us to be able to give back to the community that has given me so much. I think you can learn a lot from football, and that is what this camp is all about.”

Witten, who is entering his 13th season with the Dallas Cowboys, played football for EHS before moving on to compete for the UT Vols. For kids who attend high school in small towns, many say Witten is a beacon of hope, showing that no matter where someone is from that they can climb high.

Every youngster who attended the event left with a t-shirt and autographs from the players and coaches who helped with the camp. They also left with a message of hope from Witten.

“Life is about opportunity,” Witten said. “You have to take advantage of the opportunities that life hands you. We want to teach these kids to make the right choices on and off the field. I am a living example of that. That is our message this weekend.”