More than football, camp teaches life skills for success

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IECN photo AFL: High school kids from throughout the Inland Empire participated in the 4-day camp at Cal State San Bernardino.
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IECN photo AFL: Athletes for Life (AFL) hosts 13th Annual Summer Life Skills Camp at Cal State San Bernardino Sunday – Wednesday, June 24 – 27. Terrell Davis, former running back for the Denver Broncos, left, was the featured speaker during opening ceremonies, and is pictured with AFL founder Greg Bell, former NFL All-Pro running back.

Perseverance, hard work, commitment, teamwork, and education is what it takes to become successful, said two-time Super Bowl champion Terrell Davis, former running back for the Denver Broncos, to a roomful of 250 male high school students from around the Inland Empire during opening ceremonies of the Athletes for Life (AFL) 13th Annual Summer Life Skills Camp at Cal State San Bernardino on Sunday, June 24.

“Greatness isn’t predestined… it is something you all can achieve,” Davis encouraged. “This isn’t about sports but being the best version of yourselves, to tap into your potential to take it to the next level.”

Former NFL All-Pro running back Greg Bell and best friend Ron King started the summer camp to empower youth with life skills and to underline the importance of going to college.

“Education is key to life, and sports is a great opportunity for college scholarships,” explained Bell, former player of the Raiders and Rams. “Our goal is for these kids to go to college and return to their communities to be good citizens.”

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The AFL hosts 250 boys and 50 girls during the free four-day camp where participants reside in the college dorms.

Young men attend either the High School Player Development or Junior Player Development camps that teach football techniques as well as sportsmanship and decision-making skills by former NFL players and area coaches.

Davis shared his personal challenges to illustrate the importance of perseverance and “mental toughness.” “There will be times that you will fall, but it’s about how you pick yourself back up that’s important. If you quit, it’s permanent, but pain is temporary.”

Young girls in 7 – 12th grades participate in the Hot To Be a Girl program taught by Josefa Salinas that focuses on empowerment, responsibility, leadership and being mindful of how to conduct and present oneself to the world.

“It’s not about what you have on, but what you have in,” Salinas told the audience assembled in Cal State’s Physical Education building.

Participants also attend classes on coding, financial literacy, math and English, SAT prep, and anti-bullying.

On Sunday morning area youth between three and 14 and those with special needs were invited to participate in the Rams Play 60 Youth Movement program, co-hosted by the LA Rams. In collaboration with the City of Rialto’s Healthy Rialto program, Play 60 encourages youth to engage in one hour of physical activity a day.

Other former NFL players in attendance were Marcus Williams and Toi Cook (Saints), Chris Geile (Lions), Anthony Miller (Chargers), Akili Smith (Bengals), Bryon Chamberlain (Broncos), Brady Shelton (Browns), David Hill and Ron Brown (Rams).

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