By Jamie Swimmer
This past weekend at California University of Pennsylvania marked the eighth year of Steelers Youth Football Camp. The 180 campers, ranging from 6-14 years old, were joined by Steelers alumni Craig Wolfley and Charlie Batch and current Steelers Stephon Tuitt, Jordan Dangerfield, Roosevelt Nix and Arthur Moats.
During the two-day camp the kids were coached through a rotating series of skills drills, got to eat lunch alongside the players, and had a chance to get autographs signed by the athletes.
"It's crazy because Steelers Nation is so passionate about it," said Mike Marchinsky, Youth Football/Marketing Manager for the Steelers. "We have 24 states represented today, just here at this camp there is Arizona, Connecticut, New Hampshire, all over the place. It's great because you see a lot of the kids come back year-to-year. We've had kids that started when they were six and go all the way until they were 14. To see their progression from year-to-year and see them grow up is pretty cool. They're sad when they can't come back anymore because they've reached the age limit."
Former offensive lineman Craig Wolfley spoke about the amazing opportunity the kids in attendance have to play football and get high-level instruction at such a young age on behalf of the Steelers.
"They didn't have anything organized around me, so I didn't get to play until the seventh grade," said Wolfley. "But my youth football experience was absolutely phenomenal, I loved it, it was part of the fundamental building blocks of my future career, and there's no game that teaches sportsmanship and the values of life quite like football does."
First-year camper Zach Espiola made the drive with his mom from Raleigh, North Carolina, for the weekend and was not disappointed.
"It was my birthday and my mom got this for me as my birthday gift," said Espiloa. "It's a lot of fun. I've always wanted to meet Steelers players and now I finally got my chance."