Week of Champions: former NFL players + camera = campers go nuts!
It’s a fall Saturday at Georgia Tech, and Derrick Moore is shown standing arm-in-arm with the Yellow Jackets in the moments before they all hit the field.
“To be anything great in life, I am convinced you can’t do it without a whole lot of passion,” the former NFL running back begins, just warming up to his topic.
“You can’t do this without emotion, excitement, a fire in your belly — and passion that jumps off your face! That’s what makes this game great. I’ve never seen a Hall of Famer ever make it to the Hall of Fame without passion!”
It’s among a series of videos capturing Moore’s own pregame passion that have found a following on YouTube. And if any Week of Champions camper needs a little push out of bed in the morning, dial up one of those clips.
“I’m not sure how familiar they (would be) of them,” Moore said with a chuckle. “But those were a lot of fun. They are inspiring, or that’s what people tell me. I think if they have the fortune of seeing those, it might bring some enjoyment and excitement.”
He takes that energy and puts it onto the field and that energy transfers. Campers run faster, they catch more passes, whatever it may be.
Week of Champions director Chuck Workman, speaking about Derrick Moore
A life coach, author and motivational speaker in addition to his role as Tech’s football chaplain, Moore is among more than a half-dozen former professional athletes who will share coaching and faith with campers during the weeklong event.
“The chance to work with young people in the Lowcountry is a treasure of mine,” said Moore, whose service to Week of Champions goes back more than a decade.
WOC director Chuck Workman calls Moore’s energy “contagious.”
“He takes that energy and puts it onto the field and that energy transfers,” Workman said. “Campers run faster, they catch more passes, whatever it may be.”
Now in its 38th year, the Week of Champions returns in a more compact form after Workman and partners stepped in after the Fellowship of Christian Athletes decided not to move forward. Instead of multiple sites, all sessions except golf are held at Hilton Head Island High.
The roster of former pros includes several regulars, including Antonio London (football), Rodney Monroe (basketball), Andy McGaffigan (baseball) and Steve Shak (soccer). Several local coaches also will be part of the proceedings.
“The opportunity to make a difference is big,” Moore said.
Moore spent seven years in the NFL, including setting the NFL’s expansion-team rushing mark with 740 yards for the Carolina Panthers in 1995. Before that, he was Barry Sanders’ backup for two seasons with the Detroit Lions.
“Not a bad gig if you can get it,” he quipped.
“Barry was a superstar player with tremendous grace and humility,” Moore said. “Everything you could ever want to represent an athlete, Barry Sanders had it. He was the greatest football player I’ve ever seen or had the privilege of working with.”
And that includes Calvin Johnson, the just-retired Lions receiver who Moore has mentored since “Megatron” was a Georgia Tech freshman.
As for Moore’s second career, it stems back his own college days at NAIA Northeastern State in Oklahoma, where one popular pregame led to another and another.
“I found I had a real knack for capturing the moment,” he recalled. “It’s got to be about the moment. If you can bring that message to the moment, you’re usually going to get a pretty positive response.”
One speech with lasting value goes back to 2006, when Moore brought out what has become his most popular prop and preached the “attitude of the sledgehammer.”
“It has a demolition mentality,” Moore said. “It wants to be physical. ... A lot of football is physicality. The sledgehammer captures that we’re not looking for passivity.”
This week also marks the first Week of Champions without founder Gary Wetherington, who died in early April at age 72. He and wife Wanda operated the camp for its first 34 years, attracting dozens of top-name athletes and coaches to join the mix of teaching and Christian testimony.
“It makes us want to do it better,” Workman said. “He and Wanda developed this camp. Gary loved kids, and he loves Jesus Christ.”
Moore said Wetherington “strived to make certain all of us former players who came to Week of Champions had a wonderful week, but he kept the main thing the main thing.”He loved kids; he loved young people. He wanted to see them excel and succeed in life. Gary was the champion of the Week of Champions.”
WEEK OF CHAMPIONS
OPEN TO: Boys and girls, ages 8-12
WHEN: 8:30 a.m.-noon, Monday-Friday
WHERE: Hilton Head Island High School (Monday-Thursday), The First Tee of the Lowcountry (Friday)
REGISTER: IslandRecCenter.org/week-of-champions/2016 (Note: Registration for golf has reached capacity)
Monday: Football, soccer, cheerleading
Tuesday: Football, soccer, cheerleading
Wednesday: Basketball, baseball, softball
Thursday: Basketball, baseball, softball
Baseball: Andy McGaffigan (Yankees, Giants, Reds, Expos, Royals), Matt Smith (Hilton Head Christian coach), Doug Gilman (Hilton Head Baseball Assoc.), Caleb Workman (Flagler College)
Basketball: Rodney Monroe (N.C. State; Atlanta Hawks), Terry Dozier (USC; Charlotte Hornets), David Hill (former HHCA coach), Nicole Hedden (Upward Sports)
Cheerleading: Marilou Braswell (FCA national staff), Makenzie Blacock (Georgia), Kat Tatum (Georgia Southern), Katlyn Fryer (Florida St.), Stefani Shepherd (former Western Carolina)
Football: Derrick Moore (Northeastern State; Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals), Antonio London (Alabama; Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers), Matt Smith (Hilton Head Christian coach)
Golf: Doug Weaver (Palmetto Dunes, former PGA Tour)
Soccer: Steve Shak (UCLA; NY/NJ MetroStars, Colorado Rapids), Ed Heberling (USC Beaufort women's coach)
Softball: Laura Heberling (USC Beaufort coach), Corbin Stripling (Hilton Head Island HS coach)