More than 175 youths, guided by 22 coaches, participated in last week’s NFL High School Player Development Camp at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, making it the largest since the city began playing host to the camp.
Put on by the NFL and sponsored by the National Guard, the camp offered safety and conditioning drills to area high school football players, while also aiming to teach skills beyond game itself.
Michael Wright, the camp coordinator, said he was floored by the support the player development camp received from the area. Wright heard about the camp a few years ago and thought it would be valuable to bring to Rocky Mount.
“I give all the credit to the NFL, the National Guard and the city of Rocky Mount, who was just so gracious,” Wright said. “We all got together and we all made it work.”
This year was the camp’s second in Rocky Mount.
Campers participated in position-specific drills, conditioning activities and seven-on-seven scrimmages.
Wright, who also coaches the Carolina Stallions, a Rocky Mount-based semi- professional football team, said the camp isn’t even close to its potential.
With four 3-A schools – the second-biggest classification of high schools under the North Carolina High School Athletic Association – in Nash County alone, Wright said the camp can grow exponentially.
“We should be getting 300 kids without a problem,” Wright said. “We can’t continue to let our kids miss the boat. When stuff like this comes here, we have to rally together and make these kids successful.”
Each camper was given a gift bag from the National Guard and was allowed to keep the jersey provided to him, though Wright said the camp did so well that they nearly ran out of them.
Wright said he also makes it a point to teach the camp participants about life skills and being a good citizen. With events such as this camp, Wright said, local youths have an opportunity to be involved with something positive.
With a solid foundation in place, Wright said, he thinks the player development camp can become a summer staple in the area.
“As long as we’re leaders in the community, we’ll continue to grow in Rocky Mount,” Wright said. “I just can’t wait until next year.”