Super Bowl winner Chris Johnson hosts football camp at AHS to share foundations mission
By Jennifer Retter
The Community News
Half of the year, Baltimore Ravens defensive back Chris Johnson is touring the nation and training with his team in the Northeast. But the other half of the year, he’s right here in North Texas, putting on football camps that teach more than just plays.
Johnson, who has 3 children in the Aledo school system, held his first camp at AHS (previous camps have taken place in other locations) on Wednesday, July 10, for 6-to-17- year-olds with the goal of educating the whole athlete: mind and body.
Educating the mind: anger management and domestic violence awareness
In December 2011, Johnson received word that his sister, Jennifer, had been shot and killed by her estranged boyfriend, leaving behind two daughters. His mother, Della, had also been shot, but had survived.
The news rocked Johnson to his core, and he left the NFL to help care for Jennifer’s two daughters.
He returned to the NFL in 2012, signing with the Baltimore Ravens, and com- mitted himself to sharing his story and making a difference. He started the Showtime 37 Foundation dedi- cated to helping juveniles and educat- ing the community about domestic violence. With the help of non-profit speakers, Johnson organized break- out sessions for the campers.
“I have two goals here: to teach discipline as an athlete and to help them process the life skills they learn in the classroom,” Johnson said. “You hear on a daily basis about kids bullying in schools, and the people doing the classes are doing a good job on educating the kids on anger.” Marcus Boyd
of Santa Fe Youth Services (SantaFeYouthServices.org), an organization that specializes in working with adolescents and their families, spoke on understanding your anger triggers and monitoring your anger.
“A lot of kids don’t understand this: If I don’t have my anger under control and become a professional athlete, I might overreact and hurt my future,” Boyd said.
Debra Bowles, executive director of Women Called Moses Coalition and Outreach (WomenCalledMoses.org), led one of the sessions. Bowles shared the mission of her organization and taught the athletes how to handle bullying.
Bowels said she was excited to partner with the camp for her cause because it aligns with the work of Chris Johnson.
“He’s on the front line trying to
“He’s on the front line trying to bring more awareness,” Bowles said. “Chris has such a way of making you feel that he’s concerned. I’ve met a lot of athletes, but this has taken me back home today. There’s are some really good guys who want to give back.”
Much like the campers were encouraged to work on their football skills, camp leaders encouraged students to the anger management and abuse identification skills they learned.
“Each of the campers that are here walk away not just a better athlete, but a better overall person,” publicist Shawn Zanotti said. “They really get the foundation on the other components of what it takes to be an athlete.”
Training the body: NFL drills fill the day
To keep 30-plus players in line for the day, Johnson’s team enlisted the help of two trainers.
Ryan Roberts, who played quarterback for Baylor, said he was happy to participate in the camp as a trainer. Roberts taught agility drills and tech- niques to the players on the AHS field.
“A lot of these kids are new to football, so today is about teaching the positions and drills,” Roberts said. “I’m happy to help a player like Chris. I have so much respect for him as a player and as a man.”
Roberts split the campers with Trent Shelton, who also played at Baylor and signed with the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins in his professional career.
Some notable campers in attendance included Johnson’s two sons, Brandon and Chris Jr.
“I look at this as a dad, not a coach,” Johnson said of the athletic part of the camp. “It’s all about fun at the end of the day. It’s fun to be around my sons and the other little guys here at the camp.”
Brandon Webb, soon-to-be 7th grader at Aledo Middle School, shared his excitement about attending camp with his father and friends.
“Its really cool because all of my friends are here playing football and doing what they love,” Webb said.
Second grader, Christopher Johnson, known as Chris Jr., took a break from playing ultimate football to talk about his father.
“Its not much big of a deal because my dad’s been here before and I’m just happy for him,” Chris Jr. said
Chris Jr. said he’s been keeping his dad busy this summer.
Sometimes we play catch outside,” Chris Jr. said. “When we’re inside, we play video games.”