Before heading to Terre Haute, Indiana for the opening of the 2006 Colts Training Camp, linebacker Gilbert Gardner has another very important camp to attend. In fact, Gardner will be doing more than just attending, he is the organizer of what he hopes will become an annual even for hundreds of kids in his hometown of Angleton, Texas.
Between July 21st and the 23rd, Gardner and guest coaches such as Landon Johnson (Bengals), Ray Willis (Seahawks) and former Colt Ran Carthon (Seahawks) -- just to name a few -- will host hundreds of children between the ages of 12 to 18 who would likely be unable to afford a football camp of this caliber. An estimated 200 to 400 kids are expected to take advantage of the free camp at Angleton High School.
"It's the first year I've done it, but it's something I've always wanted to do. When I'm done playing ball, I'd like to be a coach." Gardner told ColtPower recently.
While the experience will undoubtedly be rewarding at a personal level for Gardner and the other NFL and college players who will be pitching in to help, the Colts linebacker makes it clear what his real motivation is for organizing an event of this magnitude.
"This is something for the kids," he said. "It should really be fun."
While Gardner hopes the kids will learn plenty of valuable football knowledge and technique, he also recognizes the fact that his presence and that of the other NFL and college players will have an impact on another level as well.
"We want to show that people have come out of Angleton and done well for themselves; to go back and be role models for these kids."
At Gardner's camp, the coaches will be working with kids who are at least in 7th grade up through their senior year in high school, because that's when they can participate in school-organized football programs.
"That's the group we're focusing on, I really want to help the program out," Gardner said.
While all of the kids who attend the free camp will be taught important fundamentals, the older players will get even more detailed instruction.
"We'll bring a lot of focus to these players who have a position," he explained. "The older and more advanced the kid is, the more I'm going to focus on the details of the position and small things about the game that they should learn."