By Jim Gehman
“I saw the need for youth coaches to learn correct, proper fundamentals,” Curry said. “And also to teach part of the game that you’ve learned through coaches (about) the rigors of the sport and the disciplines of the sport. That’s where the five principles come in: sportsmanship, integrity, excellence, perseverance and teamwork.
“To understand the five principles would make for success. All of the NFL guys readily identify them because they’ve been taught them ever since they started playing football. Football is really about life. And it’s a great course in life, if you will, to help people be successful.”
Based primarily in the southeastern states, Kids & Pros have held 245 clinics and camps since being founded in 2002.
“We normally do the camps at night, six to nine o’clock, because that way the parents can get off work and bring the kids. It’s a commuter camp,” Curry said. “We want to spend some time with the parents to kind of help them make some sense out of this whole youth sports phenomenon.
“We’ll have at least six to seven retired NFL players come out to an event. Some of these guys played with us and we know them and we know their character. When you have good high-character people, they do what they say they’re going to do. They come to camp and they really invest time and energy to the kids. And at the end of each evening, we’ll have one of the players share his life’s story with the kids and the parents. That’s really a highlight of camp.”
And a highlight for Curry?
“As a coach, I think the biggest joy that you have is when the light goes on in a kid,” Curry said. “Everybody knows how cool the Super Bowl is, and that’s the goal and all that, but if you could help turn the light on and change somebody’s life, to me, that’s more important than the Super Bowl. That is an individual that’s going to look at life and be successful because he understands how to work hard, how to overcome adversity, how to be part of a team, how to never quit, how to be a lifelong learner. These are things that football teaches us.”
Kids & Pros is able to teach youth tuition-free because of donations and grants like those given by PAF.
“What it does is it helps us do what we do.” Curry said. “We compensate the coaches, we purchase T-shirts and we get the facilities. I’m the setup guy, so it helps us immensely with what we do.
“Another thing with that particular brand, we go into the school system because I’m just passionate about getting these NFL players in front of these kids to tell their stories so that kids can understand it. Not every NFL player makes $20 million a year. All they see are the touchdowns and all that, but there’s a lot of grinding that goes on and there’s a lot of adversity that’s been overcome. A lot of guys aren’t 6’6” and 300 pounds. They’re hardworking guys that work harder than everybody else and their ability allows them to play.”