His purpose is simple: put on an informative, entertaining youth football camp for youth ages 10-17 that costs the participants nothing.
“When I was growing up in Florida, I could not afford to go to camps. We couldn’t do it. I wanted to attend, but couldn’t because of money,” said Champ Kelly, a former Kentucky wide receiver and the assistant director of pro personnel for the Denver Broncos. “I said if I was ever in position to have a camp like that for kids, I would want to give them the most coverage and most instruction possible for no cost.”
He’ll do that again June 21-22 at Henry Clay High School in Lexington in the camp for players ages 10-17.
“It’s going to again be a time for the kids to meet the stars, but it is about more than that,” Kelly said. “It’s not about the guys coming back to help me. It’s about the campers. We come in and don’t make a big stink out of who is there to help, and you are going to get awesome coaching.
“The kids are going to learn football. We are going to prepare them for success on and off the field. For younger campers, we will stress the basics while getting into more extensive training with older campers. We will have a variety of guest speakers delivering messages on life skills and the importance of making good decisions.
“I like a mixture of ages. Older kids are able to be leaders by example. I want younger kids there at ages 10 or 11 from now until they graduate and they know what that ‘CHAMP Camp’ on the front of the T-shirt represents.”
Kelly had the camp at Bryan Station last year, but wanted to reach out to “a few different kids” by moving the camp to Henry Clay.
“Our plan originally was to try every couple of years to move to a different area to reach more kids. We hope the kids in the Bryan Station area want to come to camp regardless of where we are.”
But he would like to have more than just Lexington campers. North Hardin coaches told Kelly it hopes to bring at least 30 players and as many as 44 players. Kelly is hoping other high schools will do the same.
Kelly will have a variety of former Kentucky players at the camp again, such as Derek Abney, Dougie Allen, Leonard Burress, Chris Demaree and others. Last year he had Randall Cobb and John Conner, both current NFL players, speak to the campers.
“It’s almost like a who’s who of Kentucky football,” Kelly said. “But these guys love to get together and help. They like to come back to Kentucky where we all met and give back for a great cause. It’s not like pulling teeth to get them back. They want to help.
“I just think it is awesome that a guy like Derek Abney, who lives in South Carolina and is very selective about camps he’s involved with, will come spend time and talk to kids and help the receivers out.”
Kelly has reached out to former Kentucky quarterbacks Tim Couch and Jared Lorenzen about helping this year, as well as former UK linebacker Jeff Snedegar. Cobb plans to be back if his schedule permits. Current NFL offensive lineman Garry Williams also plans to return.
“He is awesome. He stays the entire day to help,” Kelly said of Williams.
He said Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme also hopes to be at this year’s camp if his schedule allows.
“I try to not put names out there, because I want kids to come for the idea of what the camp is about opposed to just the people that will be there,” Kelly said. “But I always want as many of the Kentucky guys there as possible not because of their names, but because they are great with the kids and teach them lessons about life and football.”
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Kelly’s CHAMP Camp will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 21-22 at Henry Clay High School in Lexington. For more information, visit heartpowerinc.org/events/champ-camp/.