Century native brings NFL players to area camp By Janet Little Cooper Special to the Advance
Published 7:32 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The rural town of Century, in the north end of Escambia County, Fla., came to life when one of their own, New England Patriots' Anthony Pleasant came home. Imagine this sleepy little town's excitement when Anthony brought nine other NFL players home with him!
This was the scene Saturday at the second Anthony Pleasant Football Camp held at Carver Middle School. The free camp started at 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. for children ages 9 and up. The 150 camp participants were involved in three hours of training with each NFL player present. Pleasant's colleagues shared their strategies on what has made them successful from sharing their professional football techniques to speaking on topics that included good work habits, self-discipline, motivation and confidence.
The football field that was once Pleasant's field of dreams during his high school days at then-Century High School, became a mini summer pro-training camp for area children. One or two NFL players demonstrating and teaching the kids various techniques set up six training stations across the field.
"The sports program there [Century] helped mold and prepare me for the course of my life," said Pleasant.
"This program has helped thousands of youth learn important life skills," he added. In an effort to continue these sports programs for the youth of future generations, Anthony Pleasant has joined the Carver Middle School Booster Club in raising funds. "I am going to join in this effort to make a difference in the lives of young people by hosting this football Cattlpn stated Pleasant.
NFL great, Reggie White, former defensive-lineman for the Green Bay Packers topped the list of players present at Saturday's camp. Speaking to a captivated group in the endzone, Reggie said, " People ask me if I'm a football player and I tell them no. Football is what I did, It is not who I am." He went on to share the qualities of a being a real man. White sat down late in the day with 11-year-old Austin Cooper and began talking. Reggie took Cooper's ball cap offofhis head and read "N W E Football". White asked Austin what it meant and where it was located. N W E is a youth football league in its second season in the north end of Escambia County in Walnut HilL Florida. Austin told Reggie that he wasn't playing this year due to exceeding the weight limit. White asked what the limit was and Austin's weight. As White put the hat back on Austin's head, he said, " Well, son it looks like to me you've got seven pounds to lose within a month! You get up every morning and jog and walk a mile and lay off the junk food and eat healthy and cut the sodas. You will make it!" Throughout the day Reggie as well as the other players demonstrated that they obviously knew that to be a man was more than a pro player.
Former NFL player for the Denver Broncos, Steve Fitzhugh, sang, danced and mesmerized the audience with the story of his life as a child and a professional football sidelined from the game after only two years of play with a shoulder injury. Fish encouraged the youth to not allow the 'chickens' in their life to hold them back, but to stand tall in their faith and accelerate through. Steve quoted Jeremiah 29:11 as being the verse that was instrumental in his life at the age of 12 for helping to change is life and mold him into the man he is today. Fitzhugh is the president and founder of The House DC in Washington D.C. which is an outreach for youth.
The camp participants were given a free t-shirt and the opportunity to have the players autograph it and take photos with them. Participants came from as far as Atlanta to participate in Saturday's camp as well as Evergreen, AL, Century, Walnut Hill, Atmore, and Brewton. Head coach of Northview High School, Chad Lashley had at least eight Northview football teammates in attendance with him. Northview is comprised of youth from what used to be Century High School, Anthony's Alma Mata and Ernest Ward High School. Carver Middle School Dean and Coach, Lorenzo Jones was instrumental in making the event possible.
The NFL players present were: Anthony Pleasant, New England Patriots; Reggie White, Green Bay Packers; Michael Dean Perry, Cleveland Browns; Frank Reich, Buffalo Bills; Pepper Johnson, New England Patriots Assistant Coach; William White, Detroit Lions; Eugene Robinson, Oakland Raiders; Mike Morton, Oakland Raiders; Rick Lyle, New England Patriots; and Steve Fitzhugh, Denver Broncos.