It was easy for Lawrence Sampleton to decide where he wanted to host his football camp three years ago.
Returning to his roots, and thus supporting his hometown, the former University of Texas Longhorn, NFL player and most importantly, Seguin Matador knew Seguin was the place.
“When I was a sixth grader I started playing football at the Seguin Boys Club,” Sampleton said on Wednesday. “That’s when I fell in love with the game of football and realized I had a passion for playing.
“They’re trying to get it the boys and girls club off the ground — so I wanted to bring some awareness to the Seguin unit and get the community involved. This is my way of giving back.”
Sampleton’s football camp kicks off tomorrow morning at Seguin High School at Matador Stadium and about 100 kids are expected to attend.
Sampleton played at the boys club in the 1970’s, then in junior high and for the Matadors, where he was a Parade All-American and all-state performer, and that got him a scholarship to the University of Texas.
He played tight end at UT and was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles, the first tight end taken in the 1982 draft. He played from 1982-87 for the Eagles and Miami Dolphins.
Sampleton brings in college and NFL players to help with the camp.
“The kids get an opportunity to engage with current college players and pros,” Sampleton said on Wednesday. “We’ve had kids from TLU, Texas State and other surrounding colleges in the area, and we’ve had former professional ballplayers work the camp as well.
“This year we have Flozelle Adams from the Cowboys and some others. We try to get professionals to come in and deliver positive messages about life, sports and healthy living.”
The camp is free to participants, with proceeds from donations and sponsorships going to the boys and girls club.
“It costs us about $150 to have a camper there and it’s free for the kids,” Sampleton said. “We’ve asked Seguin to support the camp and they’ve responded, so all the proceeds can go to the club.
“They’ve done some work over there, but we want to get it where it’s fully operational. I think we are moving in that direction.”
Local sponsors provide the funds to let the kids attend for free.
“They’ve all been really involved in assisting with the camp and making sure we have what we need,” Sampleton said. “There have been some others that have helped us from Austin, including Johnny ‘Lam’ Jones.”
Jones, an Olympic gold medalist and wide receiver at UT and for the New York Jets, among others, passed away from bone cancer in March.
“He was there at the camp every year, despite the fact that he was going through chemo,” Sampleton said.
The camp is non-contact, and the drills for the campers will include fundamentals such as stance and start, tackling positions using tackling dummies, catching the football, tucking the football and more.
“The campers who come will have an opportunity to work with people who are playing at a pretty high level, and maybe pick up some ins-and-outs about the game while they are there,” Sampleton said. A special session for parents of the campers is new this year.
“We’re going to talk to the parents about athletic education, training, diet and all those types of things,” Sampleton said.
A reception is planned for tonight at the Warehouse in Seguin from 6-9 p.m.
Registration for campers begins at 7 a.m. tomorrow at Matador Stadium.