Football legend brings aloha to JBPHH kids

Young people caught the fun at NFL legend Steve Smith Sr.’s twoday football camp at Ward Field. The camp was filled with skill-building drills and touch football games and each day ended with a pizza party.

Story and photos by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Legendary wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. put a big smile on the faces of kids from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam by hosting a two-day football camp on July 19-20 at Ward Field.

Smith, who spent 16 years in the NFL as one of the most dominant players in its history, guided and engaged nearly 200 children from ages 6 to 13 in the event that entertained and delighted kids and their parents, who got a chance to meet and photograph the now-retired superstar.

“I have a great time doing this,” said Smith, who has traveled across the globe with his football camps. “It’s so great that I usually bring my son (12-year-old Boston) with me.”

Organized by Morale, Welfare and Recreation and sponsored in part by Proctor & Gamble and the commissary, the camp was an exercise in efficiency. Volunteers rotated the kids through over a dozen stations that focused on various skill development drills that included passing, running routes and catching.

Each day ended with two rounds of touch football, where kids competed and put their recently learned skills to practice.

Smith said that while it seems as though the children were the beneficiaries of the two-day camp, he was probably the biggest winner of the event.

“I’ve been to Frankfurt, Cherry Point North Carolina and whole bunch of different camps,” he said. “I love doing these on bases because I get to come in their world. A lot of times, we don’t know what goes on. I remember going to Fort Hood and it was like a whole different country. I always end up learning a lot more than I think I could ever give these kids.”

Smith said that military kids and their families miss out on many of the things that civilian families take for granted.

By coming out and lending a hand to children on military bases, Smith said they get to have something that they can call their own and have a special story of what they did over the summer vacation.

“Through Pro Camps, Proctor & Gamble and the commissary, it gives us an opportunity to be part of the list of things that they experience during summer,” he said. “It’s not about what I can tell an 8 year old. It’s more about what that 8 year old experiences. It’s just about playing ball. There’s no hidden message.”

Smith said that if there is one thing that he wants the children to take away from this and every camp he oversees, it’s that they all have fun.

“If there is one thing that I want to see is for them to smile,” he said. “They get to unplug, not deal with any chores or whatever else responsibility they might have. They are chore free on the field right now.”

Camp director, Ron Huber, who recently retired after 17 successful years as the head football coach at Mount St. Joseph, said that he’s done camps all over the world with other celebrated sports stars, but Smith is one of the best.

A veteran of the Army, Huber said that there’s something special about doing camps at military installations.

“For me to come in here on military bases with guys like Steve Smith, it shows a lot about NFL players wanting to come here on the base,” Huber said. “This is big to me.”

While Smith said that this is a new phase in his life, he is happy to give his time back to the community.

Besides continuing to do something that he truly loves, Smith said that he is also enjoying the time to spend with his family.

“This August, it will be the first time in 16 years that my wife’s birthday is being celebrated without a schedule or practice to maneuver around,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being dad. I missed out on a lot of things because I was at work. I’m enjoying being at home.”

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Category: Life & Leisure