James Island’s favorite son, NFL star Roddy White returned home to his James Island family, last week for his annual football camp that took place this year last Wednesday through Friday at Fort Johnson Middle School. And as in years past, he brought part of his NFL family with him to the delight of almost 150 campers from around the island and the region.
“It’s always hard work, there’s a lot of time and effort you have to put into it, but it’s worth it. This is my baby. A lot of these kids could be just like me,” said White in between drills. White, 33, was a four-sport letterman at James Island Charter High School (JICHS), starring in football, soccer, wrestling, and baseball for the Trojans. He led a crew of over two dozen coaches that were working the kids in the fundamentals of football.It is here, and of course between the lines, that White seems most at home among kids from his neighborhood and around the island.
“Now who was it that said they were going to run me over?” White teases a group of 9-10 year-old who arrive at his station, where he teaches kids to ‘stop block.’ “f you run in here like this, I’m going to pop you with this bag.” And White means it. It is this unique brand of tough love and positive reinforcement that kids respond to, he says.
The camp was a beehive of activity with groups of campers, of different ages, bouncing from station to station with the sharp blow of the whistle. And behind it all this year, like every year is the head of White’s James Island family, his mother Joenethia White. When it comes to giving back, White, comes at it like he does each and every play on the football field, with maximum effort and a team at his back. For the coaches, it was about positivity and tough love.
For the kids the bar was set high all week. “You’ve got to teach them with tough love,” said White. “A lot of them don’t have that at home so we try to bring that into the camp.” But in surviving the heat and the tough love, the campers were rewarded by a taste of NFL stardom, with gridiron heroes Matt Ryan, Harry Douglas, Michael Vick, and Larry Fitzgerald on hand, working with campers, just to name a few.
“That’s my brother, it goes beyond football,” said Tennessee Titans’ wide receiver Harry Douglas referring to White, and why the former teammate of White’s in Atlanta made the trip to James Island despite being on a new team this season. White echoed Douglas’ thoughts. “Man, that’s my brother. We are a family.”
On football White displayed his trademark laugh and wide smile when JIM asked the 33-year-old if he faced questions of whether he was still in his prime. “They’re always ask me that,” White laughed. The annual football camp here on James Island is one facet of White’s charitable foundation, the Roddy White “Keep the Faith” Foundation. For the charity, originally titled, the Playmaker Foundation in when White began it in 2005, Roddy began by donating football equipment to underprivileged high schools. The foundation, was expanded in 2010, and is now called Roddy White “Keep the Faith Foundation.” It also offers mentoring, after-school programs and life enrichment programs to at risk children primarily in the Atlanta area.