When I was first contacted to attend the Old Spice Jason Witten Football ProCamp, I missed out on the chance, I did not respond in time. As luck would have it, I was asked a second time and I quickly accepted. Opportunities like meeting a Dallas Cowboy do not come along that often. In fact, this probably only happens once in a lifetime. For a fan, it is a dream come true to meet your idols, but for Jason Witten, he had a greater opportunity to mentor a few hundred young kids.
May 12-13, 2012, Witten hosted the 3rd annual camp for boys and girls, ages 7-14. When I arrived, it was easy to spot the 6’6” Cowboy. Watching him run drills with the kids showed a side one rarely sees. He high-fived kids, encouraged them as they ran a play, and allowed them time to talk. Most of us watch the Cowboys on television, or even at Cowboy stadium, but this was a unique experience, not only for me, but also for those kids. During the media interview with Witten, he had this to say:
We encourage the kids and sometimes they respond and listen better to me or guys like me, better than mom and dad. It’s important to encourage them at camp.
Witten spoke about the lockout, how it was a challenge last season, but that the Cowboys are excited about this year. The team is keeping their mouths shut and going to work. The New York Giants game was a disappointment and how that ended, but a loss like that motivates the team. Witten is excited about the new guys coming in. As long as Dez Bryant and Miles Austin stay healthy, they will all go out and execute. Witten appreciates playing this game every year, how great the game is, enjoying the journey, but most importantly, taking advantage of the opportunity. He is excited about what’s in store for this football team.
After spending some time discussing the season, Witten headed back to the field for more instruction with the kids. As Witten made his way across the field, DeMarcus Ware and John Phillips arrived and met him at mid-field. A boy with down’s syndrome tentatively made his way up to the trio where they welcomed him with open arms. It was very moving to see these professional athletes take the time to interact with a young boy whose dream just came true. These are the moments that make the rest of life bearable. As the morning came to a close, the kids gathered around for another chance to interact with their hero. Possibly the only girl on the field, Kennedy stepped up to play quarterback and a boy named Dakota played wide receiver; Witten stood in at linebacker. We watched as this Dallas Cowboy looked like a kid again, having fun, as if he was one of them. These kids did not hesitate to show off their skills and talents to Coach Witten and Kennedy threw a pretty mean spiral.
Ware took some time to speak to the group and told them that they have a great opportunity with Jason Witten supporting them. He encouraged the group by saying don’t let others tell them what they could or couldn’t do. He said he was always the smallest on the team, (not now,) but people told him what he couldn’t do. He took advantage of the opportunities by going to the boys and girls club, staying out of trouble, and listening to the right people in life. They say discipline is a bad thing, but it isn’t, he explained. He told them to always put God first and everything else will be all right.
At the end of the day, football brought these people together, but the message I took away was a message of focusing on the things that matter in life: God, obeying parents/leaders, discipline, and taking advantage of opportunities as they are given to you. Thank you, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, for making a difference.
I just wanted to commend you again on the quality of the Jason Witten Camp. I had two boys attend and I must say that they had an incredible experience. I was so impressed with the organization of the camp, the example set by each of the adults including Jason Witten, and the fact that you and the others at Procamps are very intentional about providing the kids with a great experience. My experience has been that that this is not always the case when it comes to sports camps.-Rod Fletcher, Headmaster, The Brook Hill School