Malik Pratt got more than he expected.
Despite attending the eighth annual Accumulative Advantage Foundation “Kid’s Advantage” CenTex Pro Football Camp & Combine and Cheer Camp to learn skills and techniques as he prepares for his senior year at Ellison, the defensive back departed Leo Buckley Stadium with much more.
Additionally, Pratt found inspiration.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said, “because these are people who came from where I am living, and they made it all the way to the NFL. That is anybody’s dream.
“They all just helped me grow both individually and as a teammate, and it was just an incredible experience.”
Pratt’s mother Shantell Williams agreed.
“There are so many guys from Killeen who made it and have come back,” she said. “To me, that shows kids that if they put their mind and effort into something, then they can achieve it.
“So, to actually be able to see someone they know, who is from where they are, come back and show them its possible is a really great thing.”
Hundreds of kids took part in the free camp, which was founded by a handful of former Killeen-area standouts as a means to repay their hometown community.
Over the years, however, it has grown to include a laundry list of local talent with collegiate and professional experience, including Duke Thomas.
After graduating from Copperas Cove in 2011, Thomas went on to play cornerback at Texas and currently suits up for the Dallas Cowboys.
He has volunteered to serve as an instructor at the camp for the past three years and feels the personal interaction with the kids is key to the continual growth in attendance.
“It is really important,” Thomas said. “This about more than just lessons in football. We want to let them all know there are lots of things they can do outside the game of football to be successful.
“We let them know they have to do good in school to ever get where we are now. We’re trying to educate them and give them techniques.”
Campers broke into groups based on their specific positions and went through drills as instructed by the various coaches, who also donated their time to the event. Additionally, the kids played games, received awards, collected autographs and received a meal.
While the 8- to 17-year-old campers focused on honing their skills, parents were invited to take part in a medical seminar offering information on topics ranging from concussions to injury prevention to asthma.
For Dell Ingram-Walker, vice president of Baylor Scott and White’s McLane Children’s Specialty Clinic in Temple, the camp provides an ideal avenue to educate parents about issues involved with athletes.
“Football is big in Texas,” she said. “Kids are going to play and parents are going to come watch, so this really an ideal way to reach them.
“They hear about all the injuries, and we want to make sure we are doing our part, and this camp allows us the opportunity.”