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June 21, 2014

NFL punter Steve Weatherford returns to hometown to give back to kids

Morning football camp attracts prep, NFL players

TERRE HAUTE — Sweat poured from the faces of about 110 high school football players attending Saturday’s fifth annual Union Hospital Steve Weatherford Football Camp.

Weatherford, a 2001 Terre Haute North Vigo graduate and New York Giants punter, five other NFL veterans and 20 coaches clapped and advised student athletes from West Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo and North Vigo high schools as they went through drills.

Union Hospital was title sponsor of the event at the North football field.

“Attending high school here 13 years ago, and this is coming from a Super Bowl champion, are some of my fondest memories of sports,” Weatherford said as he looked to the wide receivers cutting sharply on their route. “It developed who I am as far as athletics and school.”

Danny Tanoos, Vigo County School Corp. superintendent, said he has organized and been involved with the camp all five years.

“The kids learn football and the importance of their studies,” Tanoos said. “This camp helps shape these students into responsible young men.”

Seen giving advice in the quarterback section of the camp, where they were throwing to various wide receivers on different routes, was Chris Barrett, North coach since 2002.

“The kids are getting a good amount of reps,” Barrett said. “When NFL players come to a school, it keeps the kid’s dreams alive. The higher their goals, the higher the chance they’ll achieve them.”

Across the field, in the linebacker group, Isaac Boatman, a West Vigo senior said he has learned a lot of athletic skills that he wouldn’t have known otherwise.

“Being coached by Steve [Weatherford] and the other coaches is truly an honor,” Boatman said.

Tanner Hamblen, a South senior practicing reps of running routes with the other wide receivers said “it is a great experience to be coached by NFL and college athletes.”

Offensive and defensive linemen worked on their footwork in a drill down the field. Shaun Miller, a North senior who has been to all five camps, said this camp fuels his dreams.

“I’ve learned that the mind is stronger than the body,” Miller said, after wiping the sweat from his face. “People can’t give up on their dreams. They are always reachable.”

Several other NFL players helped with the camp. Marquice Cole, a Denver Broncos cornerback, has helped coach athletes all five years.

“I love giving back,” Cole said. “If me being in the NFL gives me more merit to these kids, then so be it, as long as it gets them to listen.”

During the lunch break, Weatherford and Robin Smith, North’s principal gave an “inspirational presentation,” about subjects outside of athletics.

“I’m trying to impress on the kids to stay focused on their studies, and what it takes to get scholarships,” Weatherford said

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