While the ninth annual 4th and 1 Football Camp is set for later this summer, July 8-13, the 2017 camp is one for the history books serving 36 student-athletes who now have the tools to succeed on and off the field.
Created by Mount Pleasant native and former NFL coach Daron Roberts, the weeklong camp pairs professionals, many of whom live thousands of miles away, with student athletes representing not only local schools but throughout Texas and even out of state.
While most of the volunteers travel a considerable distance to attend the camp, held on the Northeast Texas Community College campus, several of the volunteers live locally.
A seven-year veteran at the camp, Mount Pleasant native Mary Katherine Milam teaches a “crowd favorite” dinner etiquette class to the student athletes.
“I love being a part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these young men that teaches so much more than football,” she said. “I love that this camp recognizes that it takes more to make a man than football. It’s an honor to be a small part of their week each year.”
For Mount Pleasant resident Edward Stedman, it was his first year to volunteer at 4th and 1.
“It was amazing. I truly loved every second of it,” Stedman said. “I coached and worked with student-athletes for many years and it was one of the most fulfilling and purposeful times of my life. The 4th and 1 camp brought me back to that purpose. Having the opportunity to work with, encourage, and mentor these young men and seeing them grow throughout the week reminded me that my greatest contribution to the world may not be something I do, but someone I feed into, mentor and raise up.”
Like Stedman, Rachel Barkley’s purpose for volunteering is to change the consciousness of the student athletes. Currently a yoga instructor at the Main Street Gym and Market in Pittsburg, Barkley also provides one-on-one yoga sessions to clients and once worked as a personal trainer.
“I really enjoy teaching yoga at 4th and 1,” she said. “This was my second year to teach and I really stressed mental discipline. Returning this year, I also wanted to teach the class in such a way that there was a consistent flow. I wanted them to feel like they could continue doing yoga on their own after they leave the camp. I taught the students how to calm and rest their bodies and how to understand the importance of muscle recovery and how that can help to prevent injury. What I really like about the students at 4th and 1 is that they are always very receptive to learning new things.”
Other local volunteers include Rico Willis, who has served as the NTCC liaison since the camp’s inception, and Chapel Hill ISD staff Anthony Williams, who volunteers as an ACT math/science instructor. Other local workshop presenters include Kirthell Roberts, Gwen Roberts and Darren Palmer. The camp also partners with North East Texas Credit Union to provide a money management session.
A non-profit organization, 4th and 1 incorporates a three-pronged approach focusing on the fundamentals of football, academic readiness and professional development.
“Football is the hook to get our student-athletes interested in becoming high academic and professional achievers,” Roberts said. “We want these student-athletes to leave the camp a better person; ready to make their communities a better place.”
For more information on how to make a tax-deductible donation or to view additional highlights from the recent camp, go to www.4thand1.org.