For several fun-filled hours on Saturday, young football players had the unique opportunity to play the game with collegiate and professional athletes.
Westfield alum and current Denver Bronco standout, Eddie Royal, hosted a football camp at , which drew more than 200 enthusiastic kids. Participants laced their cleats and donned football gloves for the enviable opportunity.
“It feels great to be able to come back and do something positive for the community, and to see how happy it makes the kids. I have fun doing it, but it’s all about the kids,” said Royal.
Royal, the Chantilly Youth Association and Westfield High School teamed up to offer the free football camp for area kids. The event consisted of two sessions: a morning camp for those aged 7-14 and an afternoon camp for those 15-18.
Kids were treated to a surprise as former Penn State running back and current Washington Redskin Evan Royster (Westfield ’06) showed up for coaching duties. He was joined by former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon (Westfield ’04) and former Syracuse wide receiver Donte Davis (Westfield ’05).
“I’m glad that big stars come out and do things like this for other people. I enjoyed it. I think it was a pretty great experience,” said Winston Willard, camp participant and Westfield linebacker.
Under the guidance of coaches, athletes gathered on Westfield’s professional grade turf football field and dug in their cleats. Wide receivers ran routes as quarterbacks threw passes during the camp’s afternoon session. Defensive backs worked on footwork and learned proper techniques and correct pursuit angles.
“It was very instructive. There were a lot of experienced players. The coaches really helped the players one-on-one, and fixed our form and technique,” said camp participant Duncan Roberts, rising Westfield freshman.
In addition to offering valuable professional coaching tips and techniques, Royal and coaches challenged players to friendly games of pickup football. For a brief moment, memories of the 2004 Bulldog football team were recalled.
"It's really cool for us to be able to come back. It feels good to be back on this field. It's changed a little bit, but it's still the same place to us. We have so many memories here," said Royster.
With Glennon lined up at quarterback, Royster in the slot and Royal at wideout, camp participants were challenged to prevent the former Westfield players from completing passes. Much to the amazement of onlookers, some of the camp’s defensive backs rose to the occasion and broke up a few of Glennon’s passes to his former Bulldog teammates.
“It’s fun to get some live reps. I don’t get as many these days so I’m having fun,” said Glennon, who now works in the financal industry.
Despite the fact that they were offering instruction, coaches were jovial and connected with campers. They offered encouragement and frequently laughed and joked with the young athletes as all seemed to to have a great time. While the kids and coaches enjoyed themselves on the field, delighted parents watched from the stands.
“I think it’s a good idea to have kids see what a professional football player’s attitude and demeanor is like. I think that they can learn a lot from his presence,” said James Willard.
Between breaks and after the camp, Royal eagerly signed footballs, shirts and camp flyers. He also chatted at length and posed for pictures with kids and parents.
Those who participated in Saturday’s camp will not only remember the tips and advice offered by their coaches, but the great time they had.
For Royal, the opportunity to return home and give back to his community is something he cherishes.
“My fans are so passionate and that means a lot to me. I want to show them how much they mean to me by coming out here and doing something like this. I wish I could do it more often,” said Royal.
“Today was a great day. I’m happy that it all worked out and that the kids had a good time.”