G.O.A.T. Camp draws kids to football
Addressing the gathered kids, coaches and parents at the conclusion of this week’s Aaron Alford Memorial G.O.A.T. Football Camp, Ohio State Assistant Coach Tony Alford looked around in awe.
Four years ago, when Aaron started the camp, only 45 kids attended. After Aaron passed away in 2013, Tony took over and has watched as the camp has grown to more than 200 annual attendees.
Tony Alford said he knows his brother would have loved seeing the kids out on the Park City High School field having a great time playing football.
“Hopefully he’s proud of what’s going on,” he said. “This is all about him and in honor of him and his vision for this community and the kids in this community. He’s the one who started this thing. This is all a reflection of who he was as a man and who he aspired to be. I’d like to think he’s looking down and is happy about what’s going on.”
The athletes at the camp participated in a variety of drills, team games and throwing and sprinting contests. Alford said he enjoys teaching kids about the game and watching them enjoy themselves.
“For me, it’s just so fulfilling to see these kids having fun,” he said. “This is a fun game. I’m excited about where this thing has gone. I think this is probably the best [camp] we’ve had yet.”
Alford brought along a star-studded list of NFL players and college coaches to help teach the camp. Among those in attendance were Detroit Lions wide receiver TJ Jones and Ezekiel Elliott, the first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Elliott said he was honored to be able to help Alford this year.
“Coach Alford actually started recruiting me [to Ohio State] my junior year of high school, so I’ve known him since then,” he said. “He’s always asked me if I’d come out and work his camp in honor of his brother and I finally had some time off, so I came out this year.”
For as much fun as the kids were having on the field, Elliott said he was having just as good of a time coaching them and joining them on the field for games.
“It’s always fun to come out here and play around with the kids and play the games,” he said. “It’s a big deal to them. Coach [Urban] Meyer taught us at Ohio State to be someone else’s shining light. You never know how your presence can affect someone’s mood or their day or their year. Being around these kids and having a good time, it’s important to me.”
Alford said he’s grateful to have so many great coaches working the camp, helping him manage the high volume of players in attendance.
“The staff that flew in and helped out — Zeke [Elliott] and TJ and Brent Myers, Pete Kaligis, Bo Beck, Kevin Verdugo, Keenan Bailey — there are so many guys who came in,” he said. “Bill Reagan, what he does for this camp — he runs it, I just have my name on it.”
Though he’ll soon leave Park City, Alford said he’ll be keeping tabs on the Park City High School football team, where his nephew, Eli Alford, will be a senior and younger nephews Sam and Max Alford will eventually play. Tony said he’s excited to see what new coach Josh Montzingo does with the program.
“I think what Josh is presenting is unreal,” he said. “His vision and the energy he’s providing is special. I know how my nephews feel about him. For anybody who’s affecting my nephews, I have a vested interest in what’s going on. I’m excited about where this program is going and anything I can do to help, I’m going to do.”
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