7th Annual 1st Downs 4 Life™ Youth Football Camp

BY PATRICIA SCOTT, Contributing Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — 1st Downs 4 Life™ All-Star charity weekend continued Fri., July 11 with a teen conference called “The Circle of Life Teen Summit” that gave the youth a chance to gain knowledge on increasing their self-esteem and exploring career paths with professional speakers as panelists.

Sat., July 12 saw boys vying for the opportunity to meet and train with hometown hero Louis Murphy, Jr. at his 7th Annual 1st Downs 4 Life™ Youth Football Camp. Excited pre-teens and teens were able to not only meet the football star, but practice with him as well.

Since its inception, the camp has worked with thousands of boys in the community, and this year was no exception. Held at Lakewood High School, located at 1400 54th Ave. S., Murphy, who recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and a host of NFL superstars such as the Pouncey twins Mike (Miami Dolphins) and Maurkice (Pittsburgh Steelers); BJ Daniels (Seattle Seahawks) and Jamar Newsome (Dallas Cowboys) all sweated under the hot Florida sun with one goal in mind: mentoring and guiding campers in football.

1st Downs 4 Life™ focused on teaching fundamental football skills and aimed to correct any bad habits some players may have picked up. Learning proper techniques and stance as well as blocking, ball handling, and offensive and defensive schemes were discussed, modeled and practiced.

But the professional players in attendance had a deeper goal for camp members: teaching participants how to be leaders on and off the gridiron. In addition to athletic prowess, academic excellence was stressed and the boys were instructed on creating a strong moral compass, teamwork and setting obtainable goals.

Not to let leave the girls out, this year was the first year for free cheerleading camp. It focused on the basics of cheer, tumbling and choreography and more importantly, self-confidence, positive attitudes excellence and teamwork.

The 2014 off-season yielded an opportunity for Murphy to be able to come home and play for Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After being drafted as a wide receiver by the Oakland Raiders in 2009; playing for the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants, he now has an opportunity to fulfill his longtime dream.

“I am so elated to be home! I’ve dreamed of playing for my city for a long time and now it’s here,” said Murphy. “I want nothing more than to impact this community by continuously giving back. God has blessed me and I want to be a blessing to others.”

Murphy’s young football career is not close to its conclusion and with his drive and determination who knows what kind of mark he will leave on the game, but it is without a doubt his contributions to his community will almost certainly make him a legend in his hometown.

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