Rain may have been in the evening forecast for Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday, June 18, but absolutely nothing could dampen the enthusiasm and energy of the kids attending the Jared Veldheer Football Camp at Forest Hills Northern High School. The camp supports Keeping the Beat, an ongoing Student Heart Screen Program.
Established by Metro Health, Keeping the Beat is committed to raising awareness and educating students and parents about Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Keeping the Beat emphasizes the importance of early detection for heart conditions through free community heart screen events for students. Funds raised through football camps like this one and basketball clinics help make the heart screen events possible, as do generous sponsors such as the IBOAI and Metro Health.
As soon as they registered, the 5th through 8th graders were geared up with Keeping the Beat T-shirts and ready to get on the field with Arizona Cardinals' left tackle, Jared Veldheer. Standing at 6'8" and weighing a massive 320 pounds, Jared is a real powerhouse who demands respect on the field. He also boasts a dynamite smile and warm personality, making him a great coach for future football greats like the campers who attended this camp.
The action-packed evening began with a group warm-up led by multiple coaches who carefully explained and demonstrated correct techniques for stretching and conditioning. Once everyone was prepared to play, the large group was divided into smaller groups to focus on developing and practicing defense skills.
At the break, IBO Jared Veldheer was joined by Dr. Ed Kornoelje (known as Dr. K.), Metro Health Sports Medicine Provider for the Grand Rapids Griffins and several local colleges and universities. Dr. K. expressed the importance of being active and reminded the campers, "Video games are okay and fun, but being active is the best." He also spoke about nutrition and suggested, "Now's the time to develop healthy habits for good nutrition and overall performance." As a "perfect" example of smart snacking, the IBOAI provided Perfect Water and Nutrilite protein bars for the campers, coaches, and parents.
Jared discussed having fun and also working hard. He encouraged the campers to play sports with buddies and enjoy it." He also advised them to maintain a strong work ethic as working hard is what will take them where they want to go, providing examples from his own experience as a former player for Oakland Raiders and now, the Arizona Cardinals. He stated, "We choose our own attitude and the attitude we choose can make a difference in where and how far we go in sports and in life."
Next up? Campers developing and practicing offense skills on the field. Throughout both sessions, the boys were attentive and hard-working while Veldheer and the other coaches were positive and encouraging.
Despite the light rainfall that began during the second session, campers continued to be engaged, energetic and excited. They were "all in" when it came to a fun-filled game of Air Force Football, finishing the evening with an ice cream treat as reward for a job well done!
See the photo gallery.