Two hundred and thirty kids from age 5 to 18 came out on the field at Deerfield Beach High School (DBHS) last Saturday, July 9, to be a part of the Lace Up Football Camp, put together by the Shoelace Foundation.
The kids all ran drills, did ladders and other circuit training in their T-shirts provided by the organization. They split up into age categories and ran races to see who was the fastest. They battled the hot sun, but they were all smiles.
This was the second year for the event created by Jacksonville Jaguars football player Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, a running back and wide receiver. Robinson knows this school. He knows this community. He grew up here, and started school at Park Ridge Elementary and eventually graduated from Deerfield High. For him, this event is all about giving back.
“I love my community,” he said. “I want to be the change I want to see.”
Shoelace Foundation board member Jerry Jasmin added, “Denard always wants to give back. He is in a unique situation in that he plays in the same state he is from. He wants to empower underprivileged children to become better citizens.”
Besides local kids, children and teens from other cities, like Lauderhill came out to participate. Coach T. Anderson coaches youth football in the 7U category there. Two of his grandchildren, age 7 and 8, participated in the camp and he sat with other parents on the sidelines beneath tents in the shade.
“I love it,” he said of the event. This is a great thing for our youth … to have a positive role model. We need more of this all the time.”
DBHS student 16-year-old Joell hopes to play football in college. He is a linebacker right now for the school. He loved doing the drills.
“[My favorite part is] we had to run inside the box [ladder] and outside of it and do burpies,” he said as he described some of the drills.
Nine-year-old Mickeelah, who was one of the few girls in the group, came out because Denard is her cousin. She normally gets to see him only on holidays so this day was special.
“Racing is my favorite part. I did some drills. Some of them were hard for me,” she said, adding, “[For lunch], we had a hot dog, Pringles, a granola [bar] and some juice [among other items available].”
Volunteer Bruny Colquhour felt the event went well.
“Everything is very organized. The kids look forward to it every year. Shoelace is doing great for the community. It inspires the kids to dream big,” she said.
Besides Denard, there were other well-known players who attended either the event this day or the 1st annual basketball event that happened the night before. They included Robinson’s teammates from the Jaguars, including wide receivers Tony Washington and Rashad Lawrence; J.T. Thomas from the New York Giants; Rashard Robinson from the San Francisco 49ers, Adrian Witty from the Cincinnati Bearcats and rapper Ace Hood.
Denard not only helped kids to improve their skills, but taught them the importance of education.
He explained to one student who did not like to read, “In order for you to play football, you have to have your education first. You have to use school to get you there. If I could do all this work in football, I can do it in school.”
Besides doing football drills and having lunch, students got to enjoy themselves jumping in bounce houses.
He didn’t let students leave without delivering one last powerful message, saying, “Always have a role model. My role model was my dad. I want to be that person [for you all]. If I see somebody I look up to, I always want to be better than them. You all can do whatever you want. You can be president; you can be an astronaut; you can be a football player … It is here for the taking. Never do it for the haters. Every time I step on the field, I do it for love. I do it for people who support me. Do it for the people who support you.”
Story By By Rachel Galvin