Dwight camp teaches NFL offense

BY CLARK CAHILL | JUNE 26, 2009 7:21 AM

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NFL players, Iowa football standouts, high-school and college coaches from across the state, and hundreds of eager kids in one place can only mean one thing: The annual Tim Dwight Football Camp.

The camp’s eighth-straight year began Wednesday at City High, 1900 Morningside Drive. Nearly 200 participants, ages 8 to 18, showed up in the scorching sun to take part at Bates Field.

Dwight, who was an All-American while at Iowa and spent 10 years in the NFL, incorporated a new dynamic to the camp this year, involving an NFL-style offensive playbook. The former Hawkeye took the offense he played with the New York Jets and the San Diego Chargers in hopes of teaching the campers new formations and styles they have never been introduced to before.

Each camper was given a playbook, and they were told to study it each night. While at camp, participants had classroom sessions in which they watched game film and worked on formations with some of the coaches.

“It’s a lot more interactive,” Dwight said. “I needed to get more hands-on with my camp and challenge these kids in the classroom.”

Aside from classroom sessions and learning new offensive formations, campers were split up by position in order to work on individual skills with coaches who specialize in each position.

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Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi and linebacker A.J. Edds made the journey to City High on Wednesday to help with the camp. Both players felt it was important to share what they know with many of the campers who admire them.

“It’s always good to come out and help young kids,” Edds said. “We know these kids look up to us, and they see us as role models, so it’s good to get out and kind of give back to them.”

Though the Hawkeyes enjoyed working with the campers, they found themselves in unfamiliar territory, having to teach instead of being taught.

“Given the age of some of these kids, it’s hard to put what you know into teaching sometimes because we are players and not coaches,” Stanzi said. “I think I kind of learned a little bit more about what our coaches go through sometimes trying to explain things to us.”

While participants learned new formations and worked on individual skills, Dwight said the most important aspect he aims to instill in his campers is hard work.

“You don’t always have to be the best at something, but keep putting your effort out there,” he said. “To show them you go out there, work hard, and do things right, good things can happen.”

The camp’s proceeds are split up evenly between donations to the Children’s Hospital of Iowa/Holden Cancer Center and the Tim Dwight Scholarship Fund. Dwight said providing money for research to develop cures and lower the mortality rate of children is very important to him.

The Iowa City native spoke to campers about what the donations mean to those at the Children’s Hospital, and the importance of being grateful for their own health.

“Imagine being cooped up inside a hospital room all day, instead of coming out here to be in this camp,” Dwight told the campers at the end of Wednesday’s session. “You guys being here is helping those in the hospital so they have a chance to live a normal life and be a kid.”

Michael Artman, the physician in chief at the Children’s Hospital, said there are not many athletes who have Dwight’s character and selflessness, and the former Hawkeye has raised around $50,000 for the hospital in the past eight years.

“We don’t even know when he comes in to visit the hospital because he just comes in on his own,” Artman said. “To see those kids’ faces light up is great, and his support is so important in making their experience more enjoyable.”

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