Cedar­town High played host for the first Castille Char­ac­ter Camp

Lo­cal lead­ers praise suc­cess of first Castille Char­ac­ter Camp in Cedar­town

The Standard Journal - - Front Page - By KEVIN MYRICK Edi­tor

Foot­ball might be a game of tough­ness and skill, but its also a game of char­ac­ter, a les­son cham­pion ath­letes hoped dozens of chil­dren from Cedar­town and sur­round­ing ar­eas learned over the weekend at the first Castille Char­ac­ter Camp.

Bring­ing names like Olympic gold medal­ist Wil­lie Smith and long­time coach and Cedar­town na­tive Joe Kines, the camp held in con­junc­tion with the Cedar­town Re­cre­ation Depart­ment at the Jeremiah Castille Foun­da­tion.

Castille, who played for Alabama and in the Na­tional Foot­ball League, is now chap­lain for the Crim­son Tide and started his char­ac­ter camp first in Cull­man, Ala.

Now in Cedar­town, Castille’s camps bring not only qual­ity foot­ball ed­u­ca­tion to play­ers for free, but also the kind of char­ac­ter he wishes to see from play­ers.

“If we got one camper, it went great,” he said.

Castille said more than 100 kids par­tic­i­pated in the weekend camp, which in­cluded a ses­sion on Fri­day night and two ses­sions on Satur­day.

In­cluded in the day of foot­ball drills was a speed and agility mini camp put on by Smith.

Smith, who won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics for the 400me­ter re­lay, said that he hoped to give younger play­ers a look at how to suc­ceed.

“We try to in­spire young kids every­where,” Smith said. “Cedar­town is just an­other place that we’ve added to our list to where we can pro­vide that train­ing and help.

Smith said his big­gest piece of ad­vice for young ath­letes look­ing to suc­ceed is to work hard and stay out of trou­ble.

“Don’t waste time. Lis­ten to your men­tors, your par­ents and teaches,” he said. “Learn and use ev­ery bit of time to learn and de­velop your skills.”

Castille said what has made a dif­fer­ence with his camp pro­gram - and he hopes made a dif­fer­ence with his first Cedar­town camp - were the coaches brought to help out campers for this first camp.

“The qual­ity of the coaches that we had here to deliver that mes­sage is great,” Castille said.

Kines, who has coached on ev­ery level of the game, said he al­ready saw early talent show­ing it­self on the field, but that talent can be found any­where.

“It’s all the same. God bless me I’ve coached from Ju­nior High to the NFL. It’s all the same. A younger guy wants to do right, an older guy wants to do right to play longer,” he said. “Our job as coaches is to help them achieve and do well on the field.”

He said it was “fun to be back in Cedar­town” and see old friends. He also said he heard from a lot of people who have rel­a­tives he went to school with in the past.

“They came up to me and tell me ‘ you went to school with my grandma.’ I like to tell them that back in the day their grandma was quite a looker.”

Lee Hayes, the di­rec­tor of the Cedar­town Parks and Re­cre­ation depart­ment, said he felt the camp went ex­actly as it was sup­posed to go.

It’s was a great day and a half,” Lee said.

He said he thought not only the ath­letic por­tion of the camp, but the char­ac­ter lessons were an im­por­tant part of the two-day ses­sion.

“It’s some­thing that the kids re­ally get. I hope they can carry all this with them on fur­ther. A lot of these kids play in our rec pro­gram, and we look that this will ben­e­fit them in the long run.”

Hayes also said he looked for­ward to the camp’s re­turn in 2014.

The camp didn’t just draw kids from Polk County. One player, Matthew Hen­der­son, came all the way from Can­ton for the camp.

“I’ve learned a lot for my po­si­tion, es­pe­cially good tech­nique,” he said.

The 13-year-old said he felt the camp was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They’ve shown me a lot and its fun to work with them,” he said.

Pho­tos by Kevin Myrick

Top: Olympic gold medal­ist Wil­lie Smith talks to a group of young ath­letes dur­ing a break in his mini camp Satur­day. Left: For­mer col­lege and NFL play­ers helped younger play­ers with the fun­da­men­tals dur­ing the camp. Right: Matthew Hen­der­son of Can­ton...

Pho­tos con­trib­uted by Aimee Mad­den

Jeremiah Castille leads the way with young play­ers at the first Castille Char­ac­ter Camp in Cedar­town over the weekend. Castille said he brings some of the best coaches to his camps to en­sure not only the qual­ity of sports train­ing but also the qual­ity...

Cedar­town na­tive and long­time coach Joe Kines was on hand to work with play­ers at the camp over the weekend.

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