ROCKINGHAM — Making its return after a four-year hiatus will be one of Richmond County’s largest athletic summer camps.
Dannell Ellerbe, a Hamlet native and two-time Super Bowl champion, recently announced his ninth annual free football camp.
Sponsored by USA Football, Ellerbe’s FUNdamentals camp is a one-day event that will be held on the practice fields at Richmond Senior High School. This year’s edition will be Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Open to interested players ages six to 17, registration will be held from 8 to 9 a.m. the morning of camp.
However, Ellerbe has encouraged campers to register ahead of time in order to secure a camp t-shirt and goody bag. Ellerbe assured that no camper would be turned away.
The last camp was held in 2019 with around 250 players in attendance. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellerbe hasn’t hosted campers in any of the past three summers. It had been held for eight straight years prior.
But now Ellerbe, who last played for the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, is excited to give back to local players and “pick up” where he left off.
“It’s always been an annual camp, but the situation with COVID made us have to put it off for a couple years,” Ellerbe said. “When (the pandemic) started fading away and masks were optional, I still didn’t want kids out in the heat with them. It was always about the safety of the kids.
“I’m super excited for camp to be back,” he added. “This is my baby and I’m excited to come back home. I’m looking forward to going out and having fun with the kids.”
Along with his wife Shervella, also a Richmond County native who does a lot of the logistical planning, Ellerbe hopes to continue to teach local youngsters the right way to play football.
Some activities during camp will include working on speed and agility, footwork, passing, catching and stance and tackling drills, among others. Ellerbe said an emphasis will be put on playing the game the safest way, all in a non-contact setting.
Ellerbe also explained that the goal is to show campers the fundamentals of the game and give insight on each position in football.
Like in years past, campers will be split into four different age groups: 6-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17. There will also be a “fastest player” race near the end of camp, with breakfast and lunch being provided.
Adding to the “family affair,” Ellerbe will have several of his former teammates from Richmond, the University of Georgia and the NFL on hand to assist with stations and activities.
“I want the kids to come out and have fun,” Ellerbe shared. “It’s always a great time and I want everyone to be healthy and have camp run smoothly. It’s been a couple of years, so we’re looking forward to making sure it’s the best camp possible.”