Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 1:40 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
“Pro Football Camp is what made me fall in love with competition. If you’re fighting and competing with a level head, that’s how you get better,” says former camper Terrell Jennings after reflecting on his years at Pro Football Camp. Terrell noted that he learned many of the traits that allowed him to rise from the JUCO level and get a scholarship at the University of North Dakota at PFC.
The present-day 2018 Terrell Jennings sounds remarkably like the 7th grade Terrell Jennings, who in his 2012 scholarship application wrote, “The game of football has taught me many things. Maybe one of the main things I learned is that hard work will pay off…you get out what you put in.” In the last six years, Terrell has relied on football as a valuable learning opportunity, and attending PFC is what allowed him to initially view the sport as more than just a game.
As Terrell attended PFC throughout his middle school years, having professional players as coaches and mentors was invaluable. For Terrell, “The best thing about having the pros at the camp is that they made me realize they’re just like us.” The close interactions with the players helped Terrell to better learn the lessons that the pros offered. Reminiscing on these lessons, Terrell remarked, “99% of success in this game is mental…it’s all about having the fire to compete…and [the players] taught me you have to put in the work and have the right mindset.” Terrell kept these lessons in mind as he excelled in football at Pine Creek High School, than Santa Barbara City College, and now during his transition to the next level—D1 college football.
No matter one’s financial situation, Pro Football Camp believes every child should have the opportunity to pursue their interests and dreams. Thanks to generous donations from local businesses, Pro Football Camp offers scholarships to kids ages 7 – 14 years old that may not be able to afford the cost of attending camp. “At Pro Football Camp,” explains Assistant Executive Director Heidi Welge, “We want all young athletes to have the opportunity to learn from current and former NFL athletes that teach them skills both on- and off-the-field.”
The sponsorship program at Pro Football Camp provides partial and full scholarships to attend Pro Football Camp based on need. Over the 13-year history of the camp, more than 1,350 young athletes have benefitted from the scholarship program! “Without the help of partners and donors, those 1,350 kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow as athletes and individuals by attending camp,” noted Welge.
As Lorne “Mac” MacDonald, physical therapist and owner of Colorado Institute of Sports Medicine, pointed out, “That’s probably the biggest thing for the camp, is making sure everyone has the opportunity to come. I didn’t have that kind of opportunity when I was a kid.” A large portion of the scholarship recipients come from Pro Football Camp’s outreach to local organizations such as Hope & Home, school districts, Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA’s, but still many come from all over the Colorado Springs area having heard about Pro Football Camp.
Thomas was born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, a lower income small town 48 miles southeast of Tulsa. As he described it, there’s “not a ton of positivity” in Muskogee to lead successful lives outside of the town that many young people dream of. Thomas sees himself, along with others who have had success outside of Muskogee, as a leader and inspiration to kids growing up in Muskogee now. As he shared, “It means a lot to come back to all the kids and show them that you can get out and make it.” Robert Thomas has made it, and here’s how.
Thomas played his college football at the University of Arkansas as he prepared for a career in the NFL. In 2014, he signed with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent. After starting his second year in Washington, he moved around to the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins where he finished his second year. For his third year, in 2016, he spent the preseason with the Carolina Panthers and was claimed off waivers by the Giants for the regular season. After two years with the Giants, Thomas is now going into his second year with the Buffalo Bills. As he looks back on his career so far, Thomas says, “It’s been a journey. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change anything about it.”
If Thomas had listened to that 5th grade teacher, he wouldn’t have been able to make it to the NFL and see the success that he’s seen. He had the right mindset his whole childhood progressing through high school, college, and into the NFL. “I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder. My teacher wasn’t the only person to tell me that, she was just one of the most impactful ones,” said Thomas. Today, Thomas said he recalls that teacher and said, “I just thought it was funny, I kind of laugh about it.” While he can look back and laugh about the doubt that surrounded him, there’s a significant lesson that young people can take away from his success story.
Thomas comes to Pro Football Camp in Colorado Springs every year to share not only his skills on the field but also share his experiences in “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions during camp. In this portion of camp, attending NFL athletes share lessons that they’ve learned relating to character traits such as perseverance, respect, and attitude. With an audience of aspiring athletes ages 7 to 14, the impact that these sessions have on kids is incredible. Thomas leaves a lasting impact on young campers at Pro Football Camp, just like he has an impact on kids back in Muskogee, Oklahoma that look up to him so intently.
Friday, May 18th, 2018 3:40 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
One of the Pro Football Camp’s most fundamental beliefs is that we are stronger together, with the support of not only our professional athletes, our campers, and their families, but also of the Colorado Springs community. PFC was founded as a community event. For PFC to operate, it requires volunteers from the community, donations for the scholarship program, and support from the business community.
The Colorado Springs community has helped to support Pro Football Camp financially. Colorado Institute of Sports Medicine Physical Therapy provides significant financial support that enables the camp to be priced so competitively. Additionally, a number of businesses host fundraisers benefitting the PFC. Among these businesses are Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar and Grill, Marco’s Pizza, and Brass Tap—each of whom hosted a fundraiser in April. These fundraisers are helping to ensure Pro Football Camp’s scholarship program can give every kid—especially underserved kids who otherwise could not attend—who wants to attend camp the ability to do just that.
Providing opportunities to every kid, not just those that can afford it
Thursday, June 28th, 2018 3:45 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
Pro Football Camp teaches participants not only proper and fundamentally correct football skills but also emphasizes the character that it takes off-the-field and the mindset that it requires both on- and off-the-field. The hands-on coaching of the NFL athletes who come to coach the campers each year, is unlike any other youth football camp. The attending athletes work to coach campers one-on-one in skills and drills, and speak to the entire camp during breaks, sharing the lessons they have learned over the course of their careers. These athletes include two-time Super Bowl champion Greg Scruggs, Texans LB Dylan Cole, Lions DB Mike Ford, Colts LS Luke Rhodes, and many others.
The Pro Football Camp begins each day with a warm-up stretching session led by sports training professionals. Then the NFL athletes speak to the campers in the first of the three daily “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions. In these breaks, the pro players teach the campers about the character traits, mindset and off-the-field behavior that leads to success. Among these traits, the athletes particularly focus on teaching the campers about integrity, dedication, perseverance and respect. These lessons are helpful because they give the campers the emotional and character tools necessary to success on- and off-the-field, whether the campers dream of pursuing football or not.
In addition to the off-the-field lessons, the Pro Football Camp NFL athletes help to lead the campers in individual and team drills. These drills vary from day-to-day, as the camp rotates from offense on day one to defense on day two, and an all-out scrimmage day on the third and final day of camp. The campers split into teams based on age groups and play three games throughout the scrimmage day in a quick tournament. Throughout the week, the athletes directly coach campers in drills and share experiences from their playing days, offering an unparalleled football learning experience for the campers, who get to learn and perform the same drills that the pros do.
Pro Football Camp Blog
2017 Pro Football Camp Blog Posts and Stories
Ross Wright, CEO, Hope & Home said, “It’s rare that kids in foster care are able to hear directly from someone in a position of influence who was once in their shoes. Michael Lehan is such an inspiration to our kids because he can look at them and say, ‘I know how you feel. I’ve been where you are.’ It’s an incredible opportunity for kids who often feel marginalized and forgotten to know that, even though the odds are stacked against them, they can still grow up to do amazing things. Pro Football Camp gives kids the incredible opportunity to not only learn football skills, but also life skills from athletes they admire.”
Lehan has worked with Hope & Home for over a decade, working with the foster children and helping to inspire them as an example of how they could overcome the same circumstances he faced as a kid. After all, Lehan beat the incredible odds stacked against him to become a NFL cornerback. He always knew that he wanted to be able to give back to kids and inspire them. His work throughout and after his NFL career reflects his dedication to helping kids overcome problems large and small, always working to inspire kids to pursue success.
Lehan’s story and life highlight that every camper has a shot to make it in the NFL, and his support helps to boost their chances of making it. Though the odds of making it to the NFL are akin to defying gravity, it is worth remembering that every NFL player used to be a longshot kid too.
Kacin Nowlin, LB, brings an unmatched level of experience with the Pro Football Camp from all levels, having not only attended camp as a kid and volunteered alongside the rest of these players during their high school years, but also interning with the Pro Football Camp for a summer during college. He did so to work towards the fulfillment of his Sports Management and Business Administration degrees from Western State, in Colorado, but also as a way to give back to the camp that helped teach him how to approach life off the field. Kacin said that the emphasis of the pros and the camp on teaching integrity helped to “[give] me the foundation to be able to pursue the next level. Without the resources that I have been provided throughout the years, I don't think I'd be where I am, or the man I am today.”
Throughout his interview, Kacin made sure to emphasize that his favorite lesson from the Pro Football Camp was being a man of integrity—right until the interview was ended by the sudden arrival of Terrell, Collin, Peter, JoJo, and Brock. The six alumni had not planned to meet up that day, but their run-in prompted a mini-reunion and reflection on how their lives have been influenced by Pro Football Camp. Years after they last attended camp together, the old friends were still closely connected and drawn together by the ties that bind and were created at the Pro Football Camp and from playing football together.
Beyond just the three days of camp though, the Pro Football Camp strives to provide opportunities outside of the camp days for the campers and their families to meet and interact with the players. There is a Meet the Pros event at Back East Bar and Grill the night before camp kicks off, where the community has a chance to interact with the athletes and get autographs and pictures. If a camper is unable to attend that event, there will be autograph sessions after the first two days of camp that campers can attend as well.
Finally, Pro Football Camp is hosting Praise with the Pros on Wednesday, July 11th, from 6:30-8 PM, at Calvary Worship Center, 501 Castle Road, CO, 80904. This event provides an opportunity for the NFL athletes, both current and retired, to share stories about how their faith and life experiences helped guide them on- and off-the-field, and the impact that their faith has had on their career. These stories are universally applicable to people of all ages, as they aim to provide lessons about approaching career, family, and life positively.
For Collin Willis, a CB for Troy University, he believes that the campers attending this year should focus on understanding and applying the lessons of the Pros, and also should be sure to make friends. Willis said, “Pro Football Camp is just a great experience of family. You can tell everyone involved is there to inform the youth and make lasting relationships. I met MANY of the close friends I will have for life because of the camp, and the connections and skills I have acquired through the camp will, I believe, help me for the rest of my life.”
Collin also noted that the most important on-field lesson for campers to internalize from the camp is understanding “just how important being competitive and resilient is, and that all the success they want in sports will ultimately be decided by how far they want to take it.” As it was for Terrell, competitive fire is a key element of Collin’s ability to succeed at the CB position, on a play-by-play basis.
Thursday, June 13th, 2019 3:11 P.M. Written by: Greg Wiedeman
For example, Brock was forced to weather a QB competition against Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff in a prank by Red Bull on the Ventura College team—“TRANSFER PRANK: NFL QB Jared Goff pranks unsuspecting college football team”! Even when facing competition from a Pro Bowl NFL QB, Brock relied on the lessons he learned at Pro Football Camp to compete and earn the loyalty of his teammates, as seen in the video. At the end of the day, he was able to join the rest of his team in laughing and having fun as the prank was revealed, just like at Pro Football Camp in the end of day touchdown celebrations—Brock’s favorite camp memory.
Finally, when asked whether they had any other lingering thoughts or experiences they wanted to share about Pro Football Camp, the athletes were sure to get in their last few lingering thoughts. Brock said “I know the Pro Football Camp holds a lot of weight for a lot of people. Its lasting impact is second to none. I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.” Collin answered, “It's just a great experience of family and you can tell everyone involved is there to inform the youth and make lasting relationships. I met MANY of the close friends I will have for life because of the camp. The connections and skills I have acquired through the camp, I believe, will help me for the rest of my life.” Along similar lines, Kacin wrote “PFC has given me the foundation to be able to pursue the next level. Without the resources that I have been provided throughout the years, I don't think I'd be where I am, or the man I am today.” Finally, Peter remarked “This is hands down one of the best kids’ camps in Colorado Springs. It brings a community together and it also teaches your kids the fundamentals of football.” The profiled alumni, with the diversity of their experiences and background, offer hope to any Pro Football Camp attendee that he or she will be able to follow in their footsteps, and play at the college level. Indeed, perhaps beyond even that, at the NFL level, provided the natural talent to complement the character and mental skills taught at the Pro Football Camp each year.
Terrell Jennings, CB, University of North Dakota, said “my favorite thing about the Pro Football Camp was the scrimmage day. You got to meet different people from different backgrounds all over town, but all that really mattered was your ability to play. It was one of the few times where I felt like I was on a level playing field.” As a camper who attended Pro Football Camp on scholarship, Terrell overcame even greater challenges than normal in rising through the JUCO ranks to earn a scholarship at the University of North Dakota.
Terrell emphasized that the guidance of the NFL athletes coaching at Pro Football Camp helped him earn that scholarship, because they “they made me realize they’re just like us.” This ability to relate easily with the pros made it easier for Jennings to envision himself in their place, and to pursue his dream in the hopes of becoming an NFL athlete himself someday.
Friday, July 7th, 2017 3:40 P.M. written by Jarek Moreschini
Every year Pro Football camp makes a lasting impact on hundreds of kids from Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. Over the course of the three-day camp, campers learn football and life skills, for both on- and off-the-field pursuits. This camp is unique because the participants will be working with real NFL athletes. The goal of the camp is not only to make the kids better all-around football players, but also to help make them better people off the field. The current and former NFL athletes will teach the kids proper techniques for every position so that they can become better, more versatile players. The NFL athletes will be reinforcing key life lessons that will help campers beyond football three times each day with “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions. Hearing real stories about real NFL athletes teaches campers lessons about integrity, courage, discipline, respect, and hard work. The kids are taught that even in the worst situations, hard work can ensure they become whatever they want. Pro Football Camp is more powerful than just football because it gives campers the tools to be successful outside of football—after all, the game is the easy part.
Every year, Pro Football Camp looks for sponsors to support their scholarship program to help underserved kids attend camp who would not be able to do so otherwise. Pro Football Camp wants to make a lasting impact on as many kids as possible with the scholarship program. By funding scholarships, sponsors are investing in the players and citizens of tomorrow.
The NFL athletes at the Pro Football Camp have impacted more than 2,000 kids over the camp’s 11 years. The following are testimonials from parents of Pro Football Camp participants throughout the years:
"The camp was very positive, it reinforced everyday life ethics (work hard, do your best), and taught that you have to work toward what you want. The camp pushed the kids to their physical limits, thank you!! They are more aware of what they CAN do instead of what they THINK they cannot." - Darell & Davetta, Parent
For PDFs of the blog posts, click on the story photo you want to read
When asked about his favorite camp memories, Terrell was quick to say, “My favorite thing about the Pro Football Camp was the scrimmage day. You got to meet different people from different backgrounds all over town, but all that really mattered was your ability to play. It was one of the few times where I felt like I was on a level playing field.” Unquestionably, Terrell Jennings can compete at a high level due to his natural talent, but his hard work, dedication, character and other off-the-field lessons that he learned as a scholarship camper at the Pro Football Camp, have been part of his journey to hard-earned success.
As the then 7th-grade Terrell Jennings wrote, “My love for this wonderful game is ever-lasting. Football has also taught me many things. Maybe the most important side of football is that it can help me be a better person later in life.”Terrell is not the only Pro Football Camp alumni playing college football. JoJo Domann plays for the University of Nebraska, Tommy Lazarro is the quarterback for Central Michigan. Peter Isais and Collin Willis are preferred walk-ons at University of North Dakota State and Troy University, respectively. Kacin Nowlin plays for Western University and Brock Domann is slated as the starting QB at Ventura College.
For those kids who may be dreaming of following in Terrell’s footsteps, but lack the means to attend camp, applying for a scholarship to attend the Pro Football Camp can provide an invaluable opportunity to shape their path as an athlete, or simply be an experience that will build character under the mentorship of the pros, all while having fun and making new friends.
Thursday, June 14th, 2018 3:33 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
Among the many questions parents ask when searching for a youth sports camp for their children to attend over the summer is “how successful has the camp been in furthering the athletic careers of its campers?” In the case of the Pro Football Camp, no fewer than seven former campers have reached the college football level and play at that level today.
Terrell Jennings will continue his college career at the University of North Dakota this fall, JoJo Domann plays for the University of Nebraska, and Tommy Lazarro is the QB for Central Michigan. Peter Isais and Collin Willis are preferred walk-ons at University of North Dakota State and Troy University, respectively. Finally, Kacin Nowlin plays for Western University and Brock Domann is slated as the starting QB at Ventura College. Given that the Pro Football Camp has only been around for 13 years, expect that number to increase as more campers from the early years of Pro Football Camp reach college age.
2018 Pro Football Camp Blog Posts and Stories
"It's fun. My son was so inspired by the coaches and the Pros. He woke me up early every morning eager to get to camp. It's like he was 'thirsty' for this kind of leadership in sports. He is a better athlete and most importantly a better person because of this camp." - Ceci Anderson, Parent
“Sign your child up because this camp not only teaches correct football skills, but also teaches great life lessons. That no matter where they come from they should set their goals high and dream big because they can make it into the NFL too.” – Karen, parent
Maverick Wilson is a great example of a scholarship recipient who benefitted greatly from Pro Football Camp. Maverick went to the camp for four straight years and eventually became a volunteer for Pro Football Camp. “Pro Football Camp has made an enormous impact on my life. It taught me all the fundamentals that I used on my high school football team. Pro Football Camp has also taught me the characteristic skills to be a successful team leader like integrity, respect and perseverance.” - Maverick Wilson
For the past 11 years, the Pro Football Camp featuring NFL players has created an amazing, motivational experience for kids in the Colorado Springs area. If a parent is looking for a fun, inspirational camp that teaches the game of football as well as life lessons, this is the camp to be at!
How Chris Meeks’ Story Has Driven Him to Give Back to the Community
Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 3:38 P.M. written by Greg Wiedeman
Growing up in a difficult situation surrounded by financial struggles and family problems, Chris Meeks’ story of success is nothing short of extraordinary. Perhaps the greatest part of his story is his focus on giving back to the community now that he can. Meeks’ inspiration to give back stems from looking back on his childhood and those who went out of their way to help him and his family through their struggles. As Meeks put it, “There were so many people who helped me throughout my life not wanting any accolades or recognition, they were just there to help our family.” Meeks has channeled this appreciation into his own generosity towards the community, and in particular, Pro Football Camp. For 14 years Pro Football Camp has provided a unique experience for 3,379 young athletes in the Colorado Springs area. With NFL athletes teaching skills for application both on- and off-the-field, the learning opportunities for these campers are invaluable. One of Pro Football Camp’s pillars is providing all kids the opportunity to attend, not just those that can afford it. It is because of generous donations from partners and individuals, in the community that Pro Football Camp keeps the camp price low and provides scholarships for individuals who qualify. Meeks is one of those donors. He feels a great calling to give back to the community because of those who helped him as he was growing up.Meeks spent his childhood in a tough situation. He spent time in foster care before reconnecting with his mother, and even then, there was financial hardship that set him back as a kid. He, his mother, and her husband moved to Colorado Springs from Jacksonville, FL, when Meeks was 11 years old for a fresh start. However, the hardships continued both financially and within the family. They relied on church organizations and other people to help them and Meeks’ relationship with his mother’s husband became abusive. Throughout his childhood, Meeks didn’t have the opportunities that other kids had, as many other factors hindered those opportunities. However, Meeks doesn’t focus on looking back on what he missed out on. Instead, he is extremely thankful for all the people that helped his family. Through their generosity, Meeks developed a strong sense of compassion that lives with him today. During his 20-plus years in Colorado Springs, Meeks spent a lot of time doing miscellaneous things contributing to the community. Throughout his twenties, he was balancing supporting his son as well as taking classes at night. Last week, Meeks graduated from Colorado State University Pueblo with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. While he’s working in engineering currently, he has also started a house-flipping business to follow his desires of giving back to the community. He started Hope Homes with the intention of giving a percentage of the earnings back to the community. The inspiration behind Hope Homes was his childhood experiences because so many people went out of their way to help him and his family. As shared by Meeks, “Now that I’m in a better place, I think it’s important for me to give back to people in my situation.” In his most recent endeavor with Hope Homes, he purchased a home one-week before it was going on auction. The family that owned the home was being displaced with nowhere to go. Meeks felt that this was an opportunity to help out a family that was in a tough situation similar to his as a child. He gave the family $15,000 at the closing of the house for them to take care of themselves moving forward. Meeks pointed out that the house was flipped and sold to a young family making their first home purchase, which was interesting for him to see things come full circle.On his next project, Meeks worked with Kim Clark to flip a house and Kim suggested that a donation be made to benefit kids in the community. Meeks turned to a friend, Sarada Connors, host of the radio show, “Our Town” who sees and hears about all kinds of non-profit organizations in Colorado Springs. They decided that Pro Football Camp is a deserving cause with a mission that Meeks resonated with. Meeks sees his inspiration for these donations stem from a sense of compassion he developed in his childhood, and he continues to look for opportunities to give back to the community.
Despite having the opportunity to play rugby at the University of Oklahoma, Terrell chose to continue his football career, his true passion, even if it meant working through the JUCO level. He played one season at Santa Barbara City College and his outstanding play (26 TKL, 1FF, and 2 INT for 91 yards) caught the eye of the University of North Dakota. He earned a scholarship as a cornerback, and now continues to do what he loves.
Recounting his work to get to his recent success, Terrell said he saw “so many kids who had the talent, but didn’t have the right mindset off the field.” He continued, “Without hard work and doing your schoolwork and other stuff off-the-field, talent means nothing.” A key point of emphasis for Pro Football Camp’s “Off-the-Field with the Pros” sessions is to instill in campers the importance of schoolwork, in order to succeed as both a student and, in Terrell’s case, as an athlete.
Reflecting on his scholarship application essay, Terrell reminisced on how “the scholarship application emphasized the importance of off-the-field work.” Along with the football skills taught by the pros, the focus on character development set Terrell up to stand out amongst other JUCO athletes. Clearly, the off-the-field lessons stuck with Terrell even after Pro Football Camp, enabling him to rise from JUCO football to Division I FCS football.
The experience that these young athletes receive at Pro Football Camp is invaluable. Not only do they improve on-the-field from professional instruction, but they also develop strong character traits through “Off the Field with the Pros.” Three times each camp day the NFL athletes lead a session designed to strengthen character traits such as respect, hard work and perseverance. With the level of attention that the young athletes pay to the NFL athletes, the lessons taught in these sessions have a lasting impact on the kids. In fact, many parents have noticed changes in their child’s attitude and behavior due to these sessions. In a survey taken by parents of participants in 2018, 76% of parents noticed a moderate to strong positive change in their child’s attitude just from the three days at Pro Football Camp.
The support from Pro Football Camp’s partners comes is various forms in making this experience possible for kids. For example, some partners will host fundraisers such as Brass Tap, some will make monetary donations such as Springs Dentistry, Classic Homes, Hope Homes, and AMOS, and some will donate their expertise such as ATR Sports providing speed and agility training at camp and Colorado Institute of Sports Medicine providing first aid. Perhaps the greatest benefit of having such generous partners is being able to fund the scholarship program mentioned above, making sure that every kid can take advantage of this opportunity to learn from NFL athletes. Many of the partners make donations because they can see how much of an impact this camp has on the kids in the community. They truly believe in the mission of Pro Football Camp and they are thrilled that their efforts are contributing to that mission.
In addition to the generous donations by local businesses, Pro Football Camp receives critical support from numerous volunteers who take their time over the three days of camp to help set up, run, and break down the camp each day. These volunteers arrive hours before camp starts each day, setting up Gatorade hydration stations, tents, cones for drills, and remain after the campers have finished getting everything packed up again. Our volunteers also serve as coaches who help make sure that every kid is getting one-on-one coaching and remaining active in between drill repetitions.
A final example is the assistance of School District 49, and Vista Ridge High School in particular, for the use of their athletic fields during the week of camp. The generous contributions of District 49 ensure that we are able to host our 300+ campers, athletes, and volunteers every year, as well as providing the tools necessary to keeping everyone hydrated with Gatorade, another PFC partner.
No one entity alone could fully plan, fund, and execute the Pro Football Camp. We are very fortunate to have the support of hundreds of people from the Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Falcon, Pueblo, and Monument communities each lending their support to the PFC. When all of these disparate forces are brought together, it allows the Pro Football Camp to truly flourish and brighten the lives of every camper’s summer, as well as the lives of the individuals and companies who help put the PFC together.
Finally, for the Domann brothers, they have the unique perspective of being not only former campers and current players, but also of being the sons of Teddi and Craig Domann, the founders of Pro Football Camp. Elder brother JoJo is a safety for the University of Nebraska, while Brock is currently the starting quarterback at Ventura College. Given their connection to the NFL players outside the boundaries of camp (father Craig is the agent of the NFL players who coach at camp), they have an even better understanding of the work that goes into creating and maintaining a successful NFL career.
For JoJo, he says that his biggest takeaway from camp and being around the NFL athletes was that seeing a “NFL player that makes millions of dollars to play the game they love, [and] that are so much bigger than you, can be intimidating. But becoming friends with them, receiving coaching from them, realizing they’re just like the rest of us, and the difference is they just worked for their dreams, is very encouraging.” He believes that this emphasis on hard work and dedication from the pros helps campers to “believe in [themselves] and [their] dreams,” whether in the game or not. This message has helped JoJo remain optimistic in rehabbing from two serious knee injuries, and in continuing to play for Nebraska, despite the bad injury luck.
Brock, operating on the same wavelength as his brother, notes that his biggest takeaway from camp is that “the person who is never outworked, who works the hardest, is the one who makes it and walks away with the job at the end of the day.” As a QB, he understands the importance of “using football as a metaphor for life” in teaching young campers better than anyone. “As a QB, my job is to communicate with the other players, make sure everyone is in the right spot at the right time, and be prepared for every situation. But it doesn’t have to be football, everything I learned from camp applies to life, whether it’s communicating with my family, friends, and teachers or being prepared for school.” When campers are able to look past the football applications of the NFL athletes’ lessons and apply them to life, they gain the ability to handle any situation.
Eric Warfield, former Kansas City Chiefs Cornerback, poses for a picture with a few scholarship recipients. Many kids like these get to experience camp through the generosity of businesses and individuals to the Pro Football Camp scholarship program.
Monday, June 19th, 2017 2:36 p.m., posted by Isaiah Yates
Without the support of our volunteers, Pro Football Camp would not be able to make a lasting
impact on the children who come. Each year, dozens of volunteers from around Colorado Springs
offer up their time and energy to help the community and the young athletes at the camp. Every
year, Pro Football Camp returns volunteers from previous years, who enjoy seeing the impact
that the NFL athletes have on the kids and the community. One of our former volunteers, now the
Assistant Executive Director for Pro Football Camp, Sadie Martinez, says “Volunteering for the
camp is a community wide event that gives volunteers an opportunity to be a part of something
bigger than themselves and play a role in impacting numerous lives.”
Pro Football Camp, a nonprofit organization, relies heavily on volunteers and sponsors to help fund scholarships, keep costs low, and help ensure that the camp is affordable for families each year.
Volunteers, helping coaches and kids out however they can, are a key pillar in the success of Pro Football Camp. Volunteers are a diverse group: military volunteers from Peterson, Schriever, Cheyenne Mountain, and the Air Force Academy; and local high school and college students, parents of campers, coaches, and more, who understand the profound impact these NFL athletes can have on campers’ character.
Ryan Taylor, a 2016 volunteer, says “It’s truly incredible, how much of an impact the pros, coaches, and volunteers can have on these kids. When you’re doing drill work with the NFL athletes and the next round of kids comes over, you can just see a fire in the kids’ eyes when they realize they get to learn from these NFL players. It’s such a rewarding feeling to realize that volunteering your time and your effort has helped to make a highlight in these kids’ lives and serve as an inspiration for the future. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community, enjoying the sunshine and playing football with kids and NFL athletes for three days. I’d tell anyone looking for a great volunteer opportunity, and a great experience, to come to this camp!”
The following testimonials, from the 2017 camp, highlight the overwhelmingly positive responses to this camp.
Dawn Hazelton, parent: “Dominic gained positive, uplifting valuable knowledge from all the coaches involved during the pro football camp. He was able to see that the pro football players have encountered ups and downs during their careers but never gave up.”
Joshua, camper: “It was really fun and you get to learn new skills. You're always going to be brothers and sisters with your team and you have to work together.”
Alicia Cummings, parent: “Your child will not only learn to sharpen their fundamental football skills but will take home life lessons that carry over to all aspects of life. This is a must if you care about your athlete’s overall character development.”
Carolyn Madrid, parent: “I have told all of my friends—my son learns more in this one week at Pro Football Camp than entire seasons [elsewhere]. The breadth of skills is amazing and my son has so much fun working to improve himself. Love it!”
University of North Dakota State WR Peter Isais said that if he were to coach at the Pro Football Camp today, he would emphasize teaching the campers “The Game of Football as a whole. I would want for the kids to learn and understand the mental side of the game! I think that if kids learned there are 11 players on the field, and only one ball, they would realize working together is what’s going to get the job done.” This is so that they have the tools necessary to follow the alumni to the college level and perhaps even further, as well as understanding the importance of teamwork in life beyond football. This is reflect by Peter identifying his biggest camp takeaway as “the friendships and bonds that came with it, and also having the opportunity to meet true NFL players.” Additionally, Peter, more so than the other alumni, wanted to recognize on the pros’ on-the-field impact—“you’ll learn drills and tips that will stick with you your whole life. I still do drills today that I did in PFC”—and how they continue to help him as a college player.
From left: Kacin Nowlin, Western University; Collin Willis, Troy University; Brock Domann, Ventura College; Terrell Jennings, University of North Dakota; Peter Isais, University of North Dakota State; and JoJo Domann, University of Nebraska.
Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 3:40 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
On July 10-12, 2018, NFL athletes from teams across the league are rolling into town to help coach the 13th Annual Pro Football Camp at Vista Ridge High
On July 10-12, 2018, NFL athletes from teams across the league are rolling into town to help coach the 13th Annual Pro Football Camp at Vista Ridge High School! For the past 12 years, the Pro Football Camp, featuring current and former NFL players, has created an amazing, motivational experience for kids in the Colorado Springs area. More than 3,000 kids have learned not only football skills, but also developed character traits from listening to NFL athletes coaching at the Pro Football Camp, who share their stories of perseverance and overcoming challenges.
There are numerous traits that make Pro Football Camp one of a kind. The 16:1 ratio of coaches to participants helps your athlete to have uniquely individual and meaningful instruction and coaching from drill-to-drill. Each day of camp also includes “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions three times each camp day. These sessions allow the pros to share their stories and experiences. Through these stories, current and former NFL athletes exemplify and teach important character traits—courage, perseverance, and dedication—and emphasize the importance of education and hard work in pursuit of one’s dreams. Most importantly, though, our pros constantly work to help the kids think beyond the gridiron and understand the ways that the lessons they learn from camp are applicable in everyday life.
The stories and lessons that the NFL athletes share have had a strong impact on kids and parents alike, with every parent who responded to an exit survey agreeing that one reason they chose Pro Football Camp over other youth camps was the emphasis placed on non-football aspects (i.e. character).
Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 3:45 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
At Pro Football Camp, the NFL athletes who are brought in to coach the campers are used to being in the spotlight. Unlike the typical NFL athlete, the coaches at the Pro Football Camp choose to use their platform to give back to the organizations who helped them in their youth, as well as to teach the campers about handling life off-the-field. Even with the immense natural talents each of these players has on the field, the athletes all recognize that their off-the-field dedication, study, respect, and other character traits all play a key role in their success. In particular, Pro Football Coach Greg Scruggs strives to teach the campers about the importance of respect for their coaches, family members, and others.
When he was growing up, Scruggs was a Boys Hope Girls Hope member who lived in the Boys Hope house on his St. Xavier High School Campus in Cincinnati. During his time there, despite the presence of football stars—including future NFL Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly—Scruggs chose to play basketball and play drums for the school marching band. He finally joined the football team as a senior, helping pave the way for him to attend the University of Lousiville. During his time there, Scruggs played Defensive Tackle and caught the attention of the Seattle Seahawks, being drafted 232nd overall in the 2012 NFL draft.
During his time with the Seahawks, Scruggs was part of the 2013 champion Seahawks team who defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, before moving on to join the Chicago Bears in 2015. After converting to Tight End in the following off-season, Scruggs signed with the New England Patriots for the 2016-2017 season. In that season, Scruggs injured his knee and was forced to Injured Reserve, but nevertheless earned the 2nd Super Bowl ring of his career when the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
In the midst of all this success, Scruggs was sure to credit those who helped him reach the NFL level, nominating his St. Xavier High School coach, Steve Specht, for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award. Specht won the award that year, and Scruggs continued to give back in hopes of inspiring kids who faced similar challenges as he did during his youth.
For years, Scruggs has attended Pro Football Camp and served as a dynamic speaker who campers return year after year to listen to and learn from. Since his rookie year in the 2012-2013 season, Scruggs has attended camp every year from 2012 through this year’s 2018 Pro Football Camp, a total of 7 years. Scruggs has also remained close to Boys Hope Girls Hope and returns to Cincinnati frequently to mentor the children in BHGH houses in Cincinnati.
When asked why he comes to the camp each year, the two-time Super Bowl champion says, “I look forward to making an impact on these kids’ lives because I know from personal experience that it really makes a difference. As a kid, I had a pro come and talk to me. He impacted my life so much that I wanted to make sure I came out here to do my part. I want to make an impression on their lives because I know how great a difference it makes."
Finally, when asked about how he keeps himself humble in his day-to-day life, Scruggs said “Don’t downplay your accomplishments or achievements but don’t boast in them either. Trying to measure where you’re going based on where you’ve gone can leave you coming up short at times.” This perspective is something Scruggs emphasizes in speaking to the campers in Pro Football Camp’s “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions, so that they have lessons to help them deal with life beyond football, in addition to the football skills and drills the learn during the camp day.
For parents looking for a camp to help mold their athletes into not only better football players, but also better people, consider signing up for the 2018 Pro Football Camp, running July 10th-12th, to take advantage of the on- and off-the-field coaching Scruggs and his fellow NFL players, active and retired, offer.”
PFC Coach, Robert Thomas, DT, BILLS, Set His Own Path to the NFL Despite Those Who Doubted Him
Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 1:10 P.M. Written by: Greg Wiedeman
With the odds stacked against him, Robert Thomas showed his hometown that his dream to play in the NFL was realistic. On a 5th grade project, Thomas gave a presentation on how he wanted to be a NFL player when he grew up. His teacher gave him a D on the project and said it “lacked reality.” His climb to become an NFL player with the doubt surrounding him is nothing short of incredible.
Monday, July 2nd, 2018 2:25 P.M. written by Ryan Taylor
At last year’s Pro Football Camp, Michael Lehan, speaking to the campers said, “It’s an inspiration for me to come back and see the young faces, because as I look at each of you, I see a reflection of myself.” While Lehan was in part referring to the campers’ dedication in skills and drills, he was also recognizing the campers’ off-the-field character development over the course of camp. This character development occurs during Pro Football Camp’s “Off the Field with the Pros” sessions, where Lehan and his fellow NFL athletes teach the campers about respect, dedication, perseverance and integrity, among other traits.
Lehan, in particular, is well suited for this type of speaking, because he is the principal at Osseo High School in Minnesota. He works with kids daily, and has developed a strong sense of how best to connect with youth, whether they are Pro Football Camp attendees or students in high school.
However, his ability to relate to kids is not just due to his job, but also his passion for teaching and being a principal. “There’s a saying, ‘if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.’ When I was playing football, I worked. Today, I don’t work. I come in because it’s my passion, it’s what I enjoy doing.” Lehan’s passion, combined with his extensive experience in teaching and coaching youth, would be sufficient to make him one of the foremost athlete coaches at Pro Football Camp, but Lehan has one other key characteristic that allows him to be even more effective in this role.
Growing up, Lehan was a foster child, and was forced to overcome the challenges accompanying that life. Specifically, he notes that his greatest fear as a foster child was the fear of being rejected. That fear was something that he carried with him over the years, even during his career as an NFL cornerback for the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins. He worked with foster care groups throughout his career, and got involved with Hope & Home, a Colorado-based foster agency because he wanted to help other foster kids be free from that fear of abandonment with his regular presence and involvement in their lives.