Dwight continues football camp

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Tim Dwight hopes to teach kids at his football camp how to run the correct route — both on the football field and in life.

"I'm more than just a football guy," he said. "I want to teach them and show them what I'm doing and how important certain things in our society and life are."

Boys ages 8 to 14 gathered at Southeast Junior High on June 13-15 for a three-day camp hosted by the former Hawkeye great.

Shelley Donahue, a sister of Dwight's and the camp director, said roughly 275 boys attended this year. When all the young athletes left, she said, she felt they had a newfound knowledge of how football can relate to the bigger picture.

"We obviously want them to learn football fundamentals while they're at the camp," Donahue said. "But we also want them to have a good time while learning life lessons, such as having to work at things in order to be successful."

More than 20 area high-school coaches and former Hawkeyes helped Dwight instruct the young players on football strategy and technique as well as other areas of life one might not expect to hear about at a youth football camp.

The campers spent some of June 14 in the school building watching videos on global warming, electricity, and solar energy. A portion of the camp on June 15 was dedicated to nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Dwight donates proceeds from the camp — which has run 11 years — to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. He said inspiration for it and the Tim Dwight Foundation came from his sister Christine, who is battling cervical cancer, and from the death of a young cancer patient he met.

"The No. 1 goal of the camp is to raise money for the University of Iowa Children's Hospital and also Tim Dwight's scholarship fund that provides scholarships to high-school seniors who have some sort of a challenge," Donahue said. "And we can combine all that with learning the fundamentals of football."

Dwight said it's quite rewarding to see how the players develop over the course of the camp.

"I want to throw as much as we can at them," he said. "Something is going to stick, and once they learn that, they can crunch it down and bring on new information. These kids are lining up in huddles, breaking huddles, going out and lining up right, making calls, running routes. It's not perfect, obviously, but it's impressive to see how far they've come in three days."

Donahue said that the program retains about 80 percent of its campers — the same groups keep returning year after year.

Kelvin Bell, a Hawkeye defensive lineman from 2000-2002 who is in his fifth year as a coach at the camp, said he took the initiative to reach out to Dwight and become a part of the camp because the camp philosophy blends learning life lessons together with teaching the important basics of football.

"This is a great platform for us to teach the fundamentals," said Bell, who is entering his third year as an assistant football coach at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill. "It's great to teach them about teamwork, being a team player, and giving it your all."

Dwight stood near the school building, looking out toward Southeast's football field. Hosting the camp in Iowa City brings back a few memories from his own childhood because he, too, learned the important lessons in his life on the very same field.

"I remember I learned to tackle right over there," he said, pointing at the field that his campers trained on just minutes before.

DI Sports Editor Molly Irene Olmstead contributed to this story.

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