Like many fathers, I'll be spending pretty much every Sunday afternoon this fall playing and watching football with my sons. My eldest, Andrew, 10, loves the wide receiver position – he'll practice patterns and catch footballs on the playground, in the park, even in our living room. So when he learned that he'd have the opportunity to attend a football ProCamps® football camp to meet and learn from one of the most exciting wide receivers in the game, Odell Beckham, Jr., he jumped up and down for a full minute, screaming "That's so awesome!" — unimaginably ecstatic, even for a 10–year–old.
It was astonishing to see up close just how high he can jump, even for a seasoned football fan like me.
OBJ's inaugural ProCamp
The one–day camp with Odell, or "OBJ" as his fans like to call him, took place in northern New Jersey and hosted around 250 eager kids who spent three hours learning football skills from local high school coaches and Odell himself.
The day began promptly at 9 a.m., and the coaches divided the kids up into groups by age. OBJ arrived soon after and spoke to the campers about how excited he was to conduct his inaugural camp – while encouraging them to learn and have fun throughout the day.
After a quick catch session with the coaches, Andrew's group began at their first station, learning to come off the line of scrimmage from the tight end position by pushing the coach's blocking cushion to the side and raising his arms over the defender. His group then moved on to the other stations. Each was manned by a coach who instructed the kids how to perform specific plays, including route running, learning patterns, and how to properly catch and tuck the football to secure a reception. Andrew even had to go up against a defender, who turned out to be none other than OBJ himself! He cut in front of Odell, who playfully covered him as he ran for the pass. Andrew later told me that the footwork was a lot trickier than it looked on TV.
Eyes on the prize
Following the sessions, there was a 40-yard dash contest for autographed prizes, and Odell took part, giving some of the pre-teen sprinters a headstart. After the races, the teams played two 15-minute head-to-head games in the stadium and surrounding fields. The day concluded with more autographed memorabilia like gloves and photos, awarded for sportsmanship and hustle, presented by Odell to the lucky winners.
He then dazzled everyone by teaming with a former college quarterback to go one-on-one against kids trying to cover him, or be covered by him. Watching how high he can jump (over a yard, straight up) from that close was astonishing, even for a seasoned football fan like me. OBJ also brought down passes by catching the back half of the ball, occasionally displaying his
famous one–handed catch.
Did I mention it was the hottest week of the summer so far? The temperature was over 90 degrees, but ProCamps had water sprayers on site to keep campers cool. I, meanwhile, relaxed under the Citi® tent on the field, which had a perfect vantage point of the action.
As if getting to learn from OBJ weren't enough of a privilege, Andrew and I were both thrilled to enjoy lunch with the wide receiver after the session, which was part of the exclusive package offered to Citi cardholders. Odell's infectious enthusiasm was as evident at the table as it was on the field, and he even gently teased Andrew that "he didn't see any greens" on his plate.
OBJ patiently answered campers' questions about his favorite touchdown dance (the one he dedicated to his mom), his favorite pass play (a fly route), and – Andrew's question – what went through his mind when he made the one–handed catch against Dallas (he had no idea how big of a deal it would become). If you haven't seen it, it's worth searching for online – a near–impossible mid–air intercept as he falls backward towards the ground.
As a result of this special day – and OBJ's enthusiasm and humanity – Andrew's favorite player is no longer an image on the television screen or a name on his stat sheet. Instead, in Odell's own words, he's a guy who loved going to camp when he was a kid growing up in Baton Rouge – an athlete who has worked hard for his success.
For more information on upcoming sports events in your area, and to get behind–the–scenes access and discounted tickets to ProCamps like Charles and Andrew did, visit https://www.citiprivatepass.com/sports.html.