Rookies, kids team up at Tomlin's camp
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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin came straight from minicamp. He went from coaching Big Ben and the Steelers to coaching a big group of kids.
"What do you say, campers?" Tomlin asked. "How you doin'?"
The response was as expected from the 210 kids excited to see the coach of an NFL team.
"I like this group. This is going to be fun," Tomlin said. "Give me some."
"Give me some," at this camp, means to clap for a person. This phrase was used often Thursday at Mike Tomlin ProCamp, which continues today. The camp is open to kids ages 7 to 14 and is held at Brashear High School. ProCamp is free to all attendees.
"Play hard. Play fair. Play to win," Tomlin told the campers. "Give me some."
The campers ran drills and practiced with Steelers rookies Tomlin invited to ProCamp.
On one field, offensive lineman David DeCastro watched as a camper scrambled after making a catch. Fellow offensive lineman Mike Adams threw an incompletion, but then came back with a touchdown on the next play.
"It's good coming out here with these kids. When they're having fun, I'm having fun," Adams said.
As for his quarterbacking skills: "I can toss it all right," Adams, who throws left-handed, said.
Not all the rookies were out of position. Running back Chris Rainey ran nearly as hard as he did in minicamp to catch a deep pass in the end zone.
Kelvin Beachum was in disbelief.
"We're all about the kids, and he's out here getting all the balls," Beachum joked.
"It's a funny thing -- I always laugh when you get opportunities like this because I know that these guys [the rookies] are coming out here with the mentality that they're doing the kids a favor," Tomlin said.
"But, by the time they get back on the bus to head back to the facility. they'll realize that they've benefited from these interactions more than the young people."
The camp gave the rookies a chance to relax and have fun, and the campers got a chance to interact with pro players.
Brian Ballas, 11, from Penn Hills, said the best part of the camp was working with the players.
"It's fun to be with the Steelers," Ballas said.
Ballas added that he caught a touchdown pass from one of the Steelers rookie linebackers to win one of his games.
Richard Jetter, 13, of Beachview, said he intercepted a pass from Rainey.
"Football is the hook here, but we're teaching life lessons," Tomlin said. "I love the informal interactions. The interactions with a young person maybe grabbing a bottle of water, maybe somebody falls and gets a boo-boo, and it's an opportunity for a life lesson."
Tomlin also wanted to make sure the kids were able to relate to him and his work.
"I want them to know that I'm a part of the community. I want them to know that I'm not an alien," he said.
"I wasn't dropped from a spaceship -- that I was a young guy just like them with goals and aspirations."
Tomlin said this is his way of giving back to the community.
"I always said that if I got in the position to help people who love football and provide a free camp that I would do that," Tomlin said.
"Thankfully, I'm in a position where I can do that."
Give him some.Check the PG Sports videos for a look at Tomlin's ProCamp.
First Published June 15, 2012 12:00 am