ichita has produced a good crop of NFL players and they have not forgotten where they came from. For Rashad Washington, a former New York Jets defensive back and Wichita Southeast product, it’s all about giving back to the community that made him who he is.
“When I was growing up I think we had one camp and that was the Barry Sanders camp at Cessna Stadium,” Washington said. “And just to be able to do something like this because the kids look forward to having people that have been in the NFL or even had the opportunity to even go there. Just to get to come back and enjoy that moment with these kids is something special to me.”
Washington led the Chasing A Dream football camp at Wichita West High School on Saturday. Around 50 young athletes from ages 6-14 were present. His focus was to attract the kids and young athletes from the area and provide them with the basic skills they need to become successful in the sport. The camp featured reknowned athletes as coaches including former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Gary Stills and Elbert Mack, a current NFL free agent, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive back and Wichita North graduate. Mack said it is important for them to come home and put on these camps because they can relate to the athletes.
“I mean because some of these kids are inner city kids,” Mack said. “Some of them grew up in the same neighborhoods and same blocks that we did. Growing up I know how influential some of the people were in our neighborhood to us. So for us to come out and try to be the same role models and try to give them the same encouragement is always good.”
Stills was a 2003 Pro Bowler and 2009 UFL champion. After accomplishing so much as a professional football player, however, he said the most important thing he wants to instill in young athletes is less about football and more about life.
“When you retire I would rather teach you about life itself, rather than trying to teach you about something that is only going to last four or five years of your life,” Stills said.