orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Sports Headlines

July 1, 2014

A ton of effort went into Thomas Camp

WEST ORANGE — West Orange-Stark High School was the place to be last Friday and Saturday.

Earl Thomas has delivered crushing hits and big plays ever since his playing days as a Mustang and a Texas Longhorn and, of course, as a Super Bowl-winning All-Pro safety with the Seattle Seahawks.

So there was no doubt, he was a “big hit” at the Thomas Youth Football Camp at Dan Hooks Stadium over the weekend.

There’s nothing like watching a young man give back to the community that he so dearly loves and trust me, Thomas loves Orange, Texas.

I love when Earl is on Sunday night football when the players go through introductions he says he’s from Orange, Texas, not the University of Texas. He’s a proud hometown guy, that’s for certain.

The camp that he holds dear to his heart has grown leaps and bounds over its three-year run.

The first year brought in 500 kids, followed by 800 last year and about a 1,000 this year.

Weather may have slowed Earl, his slew of NFL players and college players and the amazing volunteers some but they ended up bring a lot of sunshine to a lot of kids.

It was great to see the kids, especially the little ones, eyes light up when the NFL players walked through the gym Friday morning. The smiles were priceless.

Richard Sherman and Cam Chancellor, members of Seattle’s “Legion Of Boom” secondary with Earl, were on hand once again. Both of them are All-Pros and they were All-Pros around the kids again.

Sherman, who was recently selected to be on the Madden cover for the video game, was awesome in instructing the campers. He always had a smile on his face. Despite being in the media spotlight a whole lot the last couple years, Sherman is such a genuine person and it was a pleasure to see him in action the last couple summers.

The camp is so much more than just the game of football, even though the campers got a heavy dose of what NFL players go through in their training.

Thomas spoke to the kids about carrying a positive attitude through life and how to make yourself a better person each day and how to achieve what you want to be.

Hats off to Earl’s mother Debby Thomas, who, without a doubt, is the “heart and soul” of the entire camp operation as she put in countless hours putting it all together.

She had plenty of help from a whole lot of volunteers, many of them members of the community along with teachers and coaches from across the area, especially from both WO-S and Little Cypress-Mauriceville.

Everyone was extremely busy, especially Friday morning as they helped corral the kids as weather turned for the worse.

There were plenty of former teammates and WO-S grads to help Earl out as well. Guys that go back with Earl as far as 4, 5 and 6 years-old, that wanted to help anyway they could.

The kids all received Earl Thomas Camp T-shirts. The giving didn’t stop there as campers received a Michael Jordan backpack that had goodies such as a water bottle, a sweat towel, a Earl Thomas poster and a little football signed by Thomas.

A good crowd showed up for 7-on-7 action Saturday and saw a lot of tremendous athletes go at it from the NFL level to college and high school.

It was all capped off when a $5,000 donation to WO-S athletics was presented to Mustang Athletic Director Cornel Thompson.

The best thing about the entire camp is that it was free. Sure, folks battled some lines and weather that signed up late on Friday morning but it was free and it was amazing.

When all was said and done, Earl brought amazing things to his hometown and it was so appreciated.

Only one thing left to say, “GO GET ANOTHER RING EARL”, Orange, Texas is so proud of you.

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