It's only January, but the 2014 Week of Champions, slated for June 9 through June 13, is rounding into shape.
Among the changes this year, the Week of Champions will expand to include a location in Beaufort, as well as a location in Jasper County at Thomas Heyward Academy.
And this year's keynote speaker will be former NFL safety Chris Reis. Reis recovered the onside kick to open the second half for New Orleans in the Saints' 31-17 win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
The Week of Champions, in its 36th year, is a nonprofit volunteer organization providing sports camps for children, ages 8 to 12, free of charge. Professional and college athletes run the camps, where they teach the kids to be champions on and off the field. WOC is run by the South Coastal Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
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WOC director Chuck Workman, who spent Tuesday meeting with officials from Beaufort and Battery Creek high schools, said there had been requests from Beaufort to expand the WOC this summer and there would be one location in Beaufort. Workman also said the WOC would make its way to Ridgeland where Thomas Heyward Academy would host. Both locations will offer all of the available clinics.
"Our intent is not to make it best for the FCA," Workman said. "Our intent is to make it best for the community."
In addition to more locations, there will be two more clinics.
"We're adding softball and volleyball to bring more girls into the ministry," Workman said. "They will be available at all locations."
Also, NASCAR will have a bigger showing. Instead of a car and pit crew at one location for one day -- it was Hilton Head Christian Academy last year -- the NASCAR crew and car will hit the road and visit all of the clinic locations in the second half of the week.
"We're hoping to make it more of a hands-on experience," Workman said.
Former major leaguers Chad Ogea and Andy McGaffigan and NBA player Rodney Monroe are among the athletes who will return for this year's WOC. A new addition is former Clemson running back Reggie Merriweather.
Workman said the athletes would stay in the Champions' Village this year, an area similar to that of an Olympic Village.
With the WOC expanding, Workman said the number of volunteers needs to grow from about 175, last year's level, to more than 200 this year.
More than 700 campers attended last year's clinics. Of those, Workman said, 127 made a first-time commitment to a relationship with Christ.
"That's tremendous," Workman said.
Workman cited the support of the communities and the volunteer coaches for the success of WOC.
"They just wrap their arms around these kids and these kids know that," Workman said.
36TH ANNUAL WEEK OF CHAMPIONS
Monday, June 9-Friday, June 13
All clinics are free and open to kids, ages 8-12.
Information: Chuck Workman, 843-415-3898, firstname.lastname@example.org