Johnny Tate Sr. would certainly be proud of what is about to take place in Burke County next week.
Passionate about coaching Drexel youth sports all his adult life, Tate passed away at the age of 70 after a brief illness in 2010.
The coach who was part of recreational league basketball and football for more than three decades in the community will continue to have his legacy honored at a football camp in his name June 22-24 at Draughn High School.
The inaugural camp will be open to children ages 6-12, and includes a cost of $40 to register. A T-shirt, water bottle and mouth guard will be provided, and each camper receives a daily lunch as well.
Making the camp even more special, four NFL players will run the event to give kids some in-depth knowledge and instruction on how to play the game. Plus, there will be playing time on the field as the kids will learn how to compete in the right manner and build their leadership skills.
On tap for the event are current Washington Redskin players Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Wilson and Kedric Golston. Late 1990s University of North Carolina standout Vonnie Holiday was also supposed to be town, but for health reasons, will not be able to attend. Another Redskin player (yet to be named) will take his place.
Next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the camp will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Draughn.
Tate’s daughter, Phrantceena Thate, is the founder of the Johnny Tate Sr. Foundation, rendering the foundation’s basis on the “Communities In Education through Sports, Arts and Music” (CIE-SAM) program.
She believes those key principles can help shape the youth of today into future leaders and into better people as they grow.
“It’s all about encouraging kids to do well in school, use teamwork and integrity to build character,” said Marcus Brown of the Tate Foundation. “We need these activities to continue in the community, since they stay with them even as they get older.”
Life coach, well-known author and Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend Stedman Graham will be the keynote speaker at Tuesday night’s opening ceremony, and the Memphis-based Scat Springs Band will also perform next week.
In addition, rising 17-year-old pop music star Erika Holliwould, a senior at Monroe’s Sun Valley High School, will perform three songs on opening night, which lasts from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Closing ceremonies, also to be held at Draughn, wrap up the camp from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 25 (next Saturday).