Academy's enlisted support local football camp

Anthony Trucks was one of the 18 professional football players who participated in the Pro Football Camp July 12-15. Trucks played football for the University of Oregon before playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007-2008. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Anthony Trucks was one of the 18 professional football players who participated in the Pro Football Camp July 12-15. Trucks played football for the University of Oregon before playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007-2008. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Academy's 5/6 Club and volunteers from other Front Range bases helped give would-be football players a taste of the big leagues July 12-15.

The Pro Football Camp is an annual event designed to offer young athletes the opportunity to learn football at the feet of current and retired National Football League players, who not only teach football but also teach children about perseverance, confidence, team and integrity, said camp executive director Darlene Warmouth.

Nearly 40 NCOs with the Academy's 5/6 Club volunteered their personal time to do everything from filling up ice jugs to coaching. The 5/6 Club is made up of staff sergeants and technical sergeants from across the Academy.

"Military volunteers have been participating in the camp for six years, and we couldn't do it without them," Warmouth said. "Their assistance helps us reduce the cost of registration fees and allows us to ... offer scholarships to disadvantaged children and children of deployed military members."

In addition to providing opportunities for young athletes, camp proceeds support military charities like Operation Warmheart, said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Banks, the Academy's 5/6 Council vice president.

"The volunteers spent their days setting up, tearing down, putting bandages on cuts, being referees ... and lots of sweating," Sergeant Banks said.

Despite the hard work, volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to be involved.

"This was my first year volunteering for the camp," Banks said. "This has been a great experience and I'm definitely going to volunteer again next year."

"It is one of the best all around volunteering opportunities I have been a part of," said Tech. Sgt Scott Gentle, the command chief master sergeant's aide, who has volunteered at the camp for the last three years. "Every year that I've been part of the camp, their support for the military has increased." In 2009 the camp donated $650 to Operation Warm Heart and last year they donated $880. This year, the camp is shooting for $1,000.

The NFL players also donate their time to participate in the camp and bring their professional perspective on the game. Anthony Trucks was one of the 18 professional football players who participated in the camp. He played football for the University of Oregon before playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007-2008. An injury ended Trucks' career, but he's still passionate about the sport.

"This is a great opportunity to help kids the way I was never helped," Trucks said. "It's also a great experience for the kids to learn how to play the game."

Trucks also appreciates the unique challenges military members face.

"My brother is in the Army, so I know how hard it is for parents to be deployed," Trucks said. "Kids need role models to look up to, and especially when their parents aren't around, it's the least we can do to help out and give back to help these kids."