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Bohanon camp fills North High field
June 27, 2018

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Kids from throughout Lee County converged on the North Fort Myers High School football field Saturday to train like a pro at the second-annual Tommy Bohanon youth football camp.

The free camp gave roughly 175 kids the opportunity to do the same drills that Bohanon, a fullback with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has done every day for years, as well as hear Bohanon tell his story about his football journey, which began at North High.

Kids learned proper techniques in running, throwing, catching and tackling in age appropriate groups with the help of Bohanon and dozens of certified volunteer and junior coaches.

Katie Bohanon, Tommy's wife and organizer for the event, said the kids wound their way through about 15 stations where they did drills they would do at scouting combines and training camp.

"Tommy sets up the field and talks with his coaches where they go to their specialty areas," she said. "We have the kids go through all the drills, we don't make them position specific, so they get a feel for everything. It's more to expand their knowledge and love for football."

Tommy Bohanon said the idea is to give back to the community that gave so much to him in his youth.

"We never really had anything like this in the area when I was a kid, so I've always wanted to do this," Bohanon said. "I started playing as a kid and that's where I started to love football. If I could give a little of that back and grow the kids' love for the game, I'm happy with that."

The event could not have happened without the help of the volunteers. Mariano Ortiz served as a junior assistant.

"The coaches showed it to me and I got involved because I want to play football," said Ortiz, who is about to start his freshman year at North. "It's fun to help little kids and show them what to do."

Sanders Green, a longtime youth coach, was encouraged by a fellow coach to come volunteer. He was stationed at the cones where the kids learned to side shuffle.

"This gives kids something to do beside watch video games and other nonsense. This keeps them busy," Green said. "That's why I love stuff like this. It's constructive."

The event also couldn't have happened without the campers. Thomas Murphy, 12, of the Lee County Hawks, said he wanted to get better playing the game.

"I liked doing the hurdles and the tackling dummies. I learned how to get better with the receiver stance, how to get off coverage and be more physical," Murphy said.

Maddie Lamay, of Cape Coral, was one of the few girls. She got involved because the Bohanons are close friends of the family.

"I wanted to come here, experience it and I thought it would be fun," Lamay said. "I liked tackling because it's fun to hit something. It's a cool experience."

After the camp, kids were treated to lunch and a talk by Bohanon, who talked of the importance of getting a good education, since the odds of making the pros are slim.

"The only reason I went to Wake Forest is because I worked hard in school. Hard work in school brings you to more places than anything in life," Bohanon said. "Few people play professional sports, so if you do well in school, it will propel you to get better scholarships in anything you want to do."

The Tommy Bohanon Foundation's mission is to help young athletes reach their full potential on and off the field. It also helps provide equipment to teams and athletes in all sports.

For more information, go to tommybohanonfoundation.org

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