Originally, Michelle Lombrano came for the football, but it is not why she returned.
The single mother to a 15-year-old Killeen sophomore, Lombrano first brought her son to the Kids Advantage CenTex Pro Football and Cheer Camp in 2012 as a way for him to improve his skills.
In the years since, however, the annual event became much more.
“It is very important that my son is around mentors from this area who did well for themselves,” Lombrano said. “So, I believe this camp is instilling great things within him that he can give back to the community.
“He sees that they can do, so he can too.”
More than a dozen former area standouts,
including many who reached the professional level, congregated at Leo Buckley Stadium on Saturday for a free, three-hour camp.
During the event, among others, camp creators Roy Miller, Dominique Zeigler, Juaquin Iglesias and Tommie Harris helped conduct drills for the approximately 300 kids in attendance.
But much like Lombrano, teaching the game’s fundamental skills was only part of the mission, according to Dallas Cowboys defensive back Jameill Showers.
“Being from Killeen,” the former Shoemaker quarterback said, “I read about how much crime there is, and personally, I have friends going to jail and getting killed, and that’s tough to see.
“Some kids feel like there is no way out other than sports, but it all comes down to choices, and if you make the right choices, you’re a good person and you’re heart is in the right place, then they’ll get out of things in a positive way. So, I just want to let them know there is hope.”
And plenty of others echoed Showers’ sentiments.
Along with numerous volunteers, some of the former area athletes participating included Jerrell Freeman, LaMarcus McDonald, Brandon Joiner, Rashad Babino, J.R. Brown, Columbus Givens, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jammie Blunt, Billy Pittman and Duke Thomas.
In addition to taking part in drills, learning life lessons and getting one-on-one interaction, kids received awards, ate a meal and collected autographs. Furthermore, a cheer camp was offered with the participants putting on a performance at the conclusion of the event.
“This camp provides a common ground for togetherness and hope,” Lombrano said, “and it gives this generation a positive future to look forward to.”
With the ninth anniversary of the camp complete, participants departed with plenty of information to help propel them toward their athletic goals, but Miller wants the kids to take something else away from the experience.
“This is about gratitude,” he said. “This whole thing is not about football.
“Every day of our lives, we need to be grateful for every little thing we have.”