On Tuesday, September 13th a group of Jaguars players led by linebacker Pat Thomas traveled over to Love Grove Elementary School to put on the Gatorade Junior Jaguars Training Camp for the fourth and fifth grade students. The camp provided students with an opportunity to have fun and learn some fundamentals while getting a chance to meet and interact with Jaguars players. The camp consisted of football drills set up in stations, and the students rotated from station to station taking part in each of the football exercises.
The students clearly had a good time spending the morning on the playing field. They had opportunities to run around, catch footballs, scamper around cones and dive through two defenders into the endzone. They got to experience what it is like to go through a practice at the Alltel Stadium practice fields.
"This is what it is all about," said Thomas. "This is one of the reasons you want to get to the NFL, because you want to give back to kids like this. When I started playing football, I was about the age of these kids, so this is really a reflection back for me."
The players know that they can impact kids' lives by participating in camps such as these. "When I was a kid I never got to meet a pro athlete," Thomas added. "By being here I know that I'm going to bring smiles to kids' faces, and that's good enough for me."
Each player worked a different station, encouraging the students and offering them tips on how to successfully complete each drill. They also coached some of the students on how to become better at specific techniques. Before moving on to the next station, the group at each station would gather, put their hands together and yell, "Go Jaguars."
Love Grove's physical education teacher, Gene Ballard, was elated to have the Jaguars invade his playing fields on this morning. "Anytime you have professional football players, especially the hometown Jaguars, come to your school it's just awesome," said Ballard. "The kids are just thrilled to death. They were coming off the bus talking about it today, so they are really excited."
Ballard added, "Kids need good role models and these guys are good role models, and it's always good for them to see that kind of action."
After the camp concluded, the contingent of Jaguars players signed autographs and exchanged high-fives for the students that participated.
Make no mistake about it; this had the look of an actual Jaguars football practice.