MURFREESBORO – The idea hit Kerry Malone one day while talking to Riverdale assistant football coach Rickey Field, who helps put on a Murfreesboro inner-city football camp at Patterson Park Community Center each year.
The idea? Why not ask high school football coaches from the rest of the county to assist in working with youths for the one-day camp?
Coaches quickly agreed to assist putting on the Unity in the Community Football Camp with the theme of “Dare to Prepare.”
“Coach Field does this every year, but this year we wanted to expand it,” said Malone, who volunteers with the Murfreesboro Parks & Recreation Department along with Ralph Buckingham to help put on the camp with Field.
“We wanted to try and get the Rutherford County schools together as one. We wanted to show unity in the community in Rutherford County. It’s not about the school name; it’s about the individuals that are coming.”
About 80 youths from Murfreesboro and the surrounding area took part in the camp. The young campers were given instruction in different drills in the morning before an afternoon session of 7-on-7.
“This was fun because we learned more stuff and got to play a game and have fun,” said Damarcus Smalls, 13, who attends Rockvale Middle School. “Now when I go to Rockvale, I’ll know more stuff — like how to block better.”
Either head coaches or assistants from virtually all of Rutherford County’s seven largest schools were represented for the camp.
“It’s good to work with (Malone and Field) because I know what kind of men they are and leaders in our community,” Blackman first-year coach David Watson said. “They like to do a lot for the kids in our community. It’s always good to come over and help these kids and let them have a little fun.”
And they did.
“We got to have a lot of fun, but we also learned a lot,” said Kendell Martin, 13, a student at Whitworth Buchanan. “One of the important things I learned is when you are running, you need to set your feet and get low to the ground.”
Buckingham said he was pleased that coaches gave their time to help the students.
“One of our goals in the summer is for these kids to have fun in the summertime,” he said. “To see these coaches come here and help these kids have fun at this camp is a great joy in my heart.
“We have a motivational time on Thursdays and have had different people come out — doctors and lawyers to motivate these kids to try and do the right thing. If we can do that through football, we’ll do it through football. If we can do it through dance, we’ll do it through dance.”
Field has built relationships with those who attend the community center over the years. He said he tries to keep tabs on them as they grow up.
“I enjoy watching them progress and have a great future after they grow up,” Field said. “Some of the older kids that come here are now in high school. But they were at this camp a few years ago.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.