Motivation and inspiration: Former NFL players put Y campers through their paces


During their NFL playing days, Jimmie Bell (Chargers) and Steve Grant (Colts) had 100 percent commitment to their franchises.

Around two decades later, that commitment has a slightly different direction.

They tour the country teaching some of the basics of the game, but also intertwine the parallels between sport, life and faith.

The twosome are now what you might call regular annual fixtures on the Greater Marco Family YMCA calendar, and most recently they ran another summer camp.

Jimmie Bell coaches a line. Crouching is Regan O'Donnell. Submitted

If you were to have dropped in soon after the start of the first day, you would have seen running and sidestepping drills, snaps and spins - all to the spirited encouragement of the two men.

"Ready, set, there you go. C'mon," said Bell in his booming baritone during one play lesson. "You gotta be ready to make the move."

The two dozen or so campers, ranging from pint-sized girls to slightly bigger boys, were clearly absorbed with the drills, sometimes giving and receiving high fives with each other when completed.

"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.

Cole Morris concentrates on a move.

"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.

Dena Hatt, children's director at the Marco Presbyterian Church, was on hand to watch the proceedings.

By arrangement with the Y, she had secured Bell and Grant to participate in the church's vacation bible school in the evenings after the sessions.

"It's a joy to see these kids working together with the NFL players," Hatt said. "They set the boundaries in a loving way."

Young Cole Morris, who has participated in previous camps, was all business during the sessions.

Steve Grant gives camper Tebow Morris some advice on balance control before a play.

"I like the camp because the coaches are strict, but not too hard on us," Morris said.

The Y's Youth Development Director, Stephanie Pepper summed up the week.

"The children had a great time at camp. Not only did they learn the skills of football they learned about working as a team and showing good character," Pepper said.

For more information on the wide variety of activities and programs for youth and adults at the Y, visit or call 394-3144.