Pro players motivate local kids
It might have been a low-key visit without civic receptions, drum rolls and red carpets, but that made no difference to former NFL players Jimmie Bell (Chargers) and Steve Grant (Colts).
The twosome were on Marco to put some Y camp youngsters through their paces on the field, and at the same time imbue them with motivation by drawing parallels between sport and life itself.
"You can control your effort, and your attitude," said Grant, who - along with Bell - represents Sports World Ministries out of Indianapolis, Ind., and its outreach program aimed at making a difference in the lives of youth around the country.
"We tell the kids that a lot of success is mind over matter. When we do these (field) drills, in the first hour they often say they can't make it; but four hours later, they've finished the camp for the day. They've achieved," Grant said.
At high school in Miami, Grant said, he quit the football team four times before persevering, because he was more interested in a social life and girlfriends.
In 1991, as a high school junior, he found his faith and committed himself to Christ.
"It didn't happen dramatically, really, I just felt that I had been in a void, and at that moment my life started to transition. That made a tremendous difference to my approach," he said.
Grant said athletes openly declaring their faith seems to be more acceptable these days.
"Back then (in his playing days) it wasn't popular to share your faith on television," he said. "If you said something about God, the media quickly went to another subject. Now, with (Tim) Tebow and other athletes, it's more accepted."
On the field over the three days of camp, Grant and Bell were strict, but also encouraging with the dozen or so youngsters who participated.
Teaching them a snap, for example, Bell bellowed "get outta here … hey! Fix your feet, your knees are too close," to start the play, and then grinned broadly as the kids executed.
They previous day, the two pros had chatted to the youngsters about sport and life parallels, telling them they should never get frustrated with glitches in achieving their goals, and instead knuckling down for each next play.
"We tell them that when things get tough, the easiest line of least resistance is to quit, but that if you can do it in one arena (sport) you can do it in another (life)," Grant said.