Juaquin Iglesias will never forget.
In the 14 years since graduating from Killeen High School, the former Kangaroos receiver has experienced plenty of impressive environments.
He crisscrossed the country while playing collegiately for Oklahoma before going on to spend time as a professional with the Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans and Toronto Argonauts.
Despite competing inside some of the game’s most storied venues, Iglesias will always cherish his time at Leo Buckley Stadium, where he will return tonight to help conduct the ninth annual Kids Advantage CenTex Pro Football and Cheer Camp.
“There is always a full-circle effect when I go back there,” Iglesias said, “because I’ll remember some of the games I played in there. I can still see the stands being packed.
“It’s just cool to go back, because Killeen will always be home, and that’s why we come back every year.”
Iglesias was one of four standouts from the area to start the camp in 2010, joining Roy Miller, Dominique Zeigler and Tommie Harris, who each went on to play in the NFL.
For the quartet, is was a means to give back to the community responsible for supporting them early on, and camp director Veshell Greene believes the mission is being accomplished.
“Football is just a vehicle that they used to grab everybody’s attention,” she said, “but once they’ve got it, the message delivered is about the kids being good people, having good grades and being respectful.
“It’s great to be elite at something like football, but it can also be used as a platform to further one’s education, and that’s something they stress.”
In all, 15 former area players, including a dozen with professional experience, will serve as instructors at the camp. Some of the confirmed athletes include Jameill Showers, Jerrell Freeman, LaMarcus McDonald, David Cobb, Brandon Joiner, Rashad Babino, J.R. Brown, Columbus Givens, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jammie Blunt, Billy Pittman and Duke Thomas.
Green is expecting approximately 300 kids to attend the free three-hour camp, featuring a cheer camp, beginning at 5:30 p.m. It is open to anyone from the ages of 8 to 17.
Divided by age, participants will be broken into groups based on their specific positions before going through drills overseen by the instructors. Additionally, campers will play games, receive awards, get autographs and eat a meal.
There will also be opportunities for adults to learn about healthy living, receiving information about a variety of issues, including injury prevention, concussions, asthma, hydration and heart health.
Iglesias hopes kids emerge with more than just skills, though.
“There is a whole lot going on in some of these kids’ lives where it is bigger than the sport,” he said. “Maybe they don’t have both parents at home or they’re going through a hard time at school.
“Football is a release. I know it was for me growing up.”