Coaching football and giving back to the community are two things that Mike Tomlin loves, and during this week he got a chance to do both at the same time.
In his role as the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin's job is to put together a team capable of competing for a Super Bowl championship each and every season. With that job comes a certain status, a platform from which he can reach out and impact the lives of kids in the community.
"I always said that if I got in the position to help people who love football and provide a free camp that I would do that," Tomlin said. "Thankfully, I'm in a position where I can do that."
Because Tomlin happily takes advantage of being in that position, a group of boys and girls ages 7-to-14 were afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the 2012 Old Spice Coach Tomlin Football ProCamp. The two-day camp, which is free for all of the participants, concluded on Friday, June 15.
The second week of June was a busy one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, being that it included a mandatory three-day minicamp for all players, which served as the culmination of the team's offseason program. But that didn't deter Tomlin from carving out some time to spend with an enthusiastic group of local youth football players.
On Thursday, the campers were treated to a visit from the Steelers rookies, all of whom joined their coach to teach some fundamental skills of football to the nearly 250 kids in attendance.
"It's a funny thing – I always laugh when you get opportunities like this because I know that these rookies are coming out here with the mentality that they're doing the kids a favor," Tomlin said. "But by the time they get back on the bus to head back to the facility, they'll realize that they've benefited from these interactions more than the young people."
Tomlin often has described himself as a football junkie, and taking some time to use the sport to teach and mentor these local youth players is something that is near and dear to his heart. And he finds it especially gratifying to provide this kind of an opportunity to kids who normally wouldn't be able to afford such an experience.
The 2012 Old Spice Coach Tomlin Football ProCamp was staged on June 14-15 at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, with the kids in attendance coming from the Extra Mile Foundation, Urban Impact, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
The campers learned fundamentals of football from many of the area's top football coaches, and they also participated in games and skill contests, based on their age. Tomlin instructed the youth football players on the finer points of the sport, as well as providing a little bit of guidance for their everyday lives.
"We're teaching life lessons," Tomlin said. "I love the informal interactions. The interactions with a young person maybe grabbing a bottle of water, maybe somebody falls and gets a boo-boo, and it's an opportunity for a life lesson. Hopefully, they get that understanding that this could be a recipe for success in life, whatever it is that they do."
All campers took home a ProCamp T-shirt and an autographed camp team photo with Coach Tomlin.