Former NFL player and Cretin Derham Hall football alum Phil Archer was very positive as the third and final day of the third annual Jimmy Lee Football Camp concluded at Jimmy Lee Recreation Center last week.
“It was a great turnout,” the former linebacker said. “We averaged between 100-130 kids per day. It was a good camp.”
Archer came up with the idea of the camp after getting together with his former high school teammates, who shared his vision to give back to the community that gave to them as youth.
Standing in the middle of Stacy L. Robinson Field — named after the late two-time Super Bowl champion New York Giants receiver who played at Jimmy Lee before starring at St. Paul Central and North Dakota State — Archer emphasized the reasoning behind the camp’s development.
“We all played for Jimmy Lee before we went to high school,” Archer said. “We had a good experience and wanted to give back.”
And they have given back!
The camp, for children ages 8-12, was free of charge thanks to a partnership with the Jimmy Lee Booster Club.
The volunteers — former prep, high school, college and professional players — led participants through skill drills at various stations.
Guest speakers provided wisdom to campers at the conclusion of each session. Ted Johnson, a former Cretin Derham Hall standout who trains athletes, spoke on the final day of camp. After completing his talk, he offered an interesting take on what prompts those like Archer to give back.
“When you have a good athletic experience as a child, you are more inclined to give back to the community in which they had such an experience,” Johnson calmly stressed. “That is what we are seeing here today.”
Archer, who went on to play for the University of Minnesota, Western Illinois and the San Diego Chargers after graduating in 1999, supported Johnson’s viewpoint but also praised his former coaches.
“I had a great experience playing at Jimmy Lee, playing for coaches like Bill Carter and Johnny Scott,” he said.
Archer also made it known that it wasn’t just him and the volunteers who made the camp experience happen, acknowledging Jimmy Booster Club President Vonnie Copeland, Vice President Sheray Johnson and Treasurer Michelle Jarvis.
“The camp would not have been possible without the Jimmy Lee Booster Club,” he said with emphasis. “Vonnie, Sheray and Michelle helped make it all happen. It was because of them that we were able to give back.”
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.