Plans set for second Witten football camp

By Wes Holtsclaw

   After a successful rookie season, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is ready to come home and share the things he's learned with the local youth.
   "Dreams Do Come True" is the theme for the second annual Jason Witten Youth Football Camp, which will take place on June 19 at Dave Rider Field and Brown-Childress Stadium in Elizabethton.
   "I'm excited about it," said Jason by phone Saturday. "This year will be a lot smoother. Last year was a great experience for the kids and we hope it will be real exciting for them."
   The theme sort of sums up Jason's career to this point, as he worked very hard towards his lifelong goal to play in the NFL.
   Witten received numerous accolades on the high school and collegiate gridirons, and excelled once he was given the opportunity at the next level.
   At the end of last season, he was listed in the tight-end slot on the NFL's All-Rookie team after working his way into a starting role for the Cowboys.
   "First he wanted to be a Cyclone, then a (Tennessee) Volunteer and an NFL player," said Jason's brother and Elizabethton Cyclone assistant coach Ryan Witten. "All of those things have been accomplished. He wants to pass that on to a few kids in the community and hopefully inspire them."
   Last year, 188 kids attended the camp. This year, the Witten family is shooting for 300 kids from around the area.
   "We want this to be an every-year thing and we want it to grow each year," Ryan Witten added. "We want to do this for the kids in this area.
   "We want to give back to the community that has supported this family so much. There are people who do big things, and we want to be a part of that."
   There will be two sessions this year, with all youngsters aged 7 through 18 being encouraged to attend. The age groups will be separated from 7 to 13 and 14 to 18.
   During last year's camp, many of Witten's former teammates at the University of Tennessee and friends from Virginia Tech and ETSU paid a visit to work with the area youngsters.
   This year, the former Elizabethton High and University of Tennessee tight end will be joined by members of the Cowboys, Volunteers and Hokies.
   One of the NFL's top young back-up quarterbacks, Dallas' Tony Romo, is expected to attend, as are Tennessee players Jason Respert and Michael Munoz among others.
   Witten wants the kids to leave with a better knowledge of their position on the football field and ignite intentions to be great in the classroom and community.
   "It's just great for kids to see other guys besides myself," Jason added. "It helps them learn the other positions."
   "We want to let them know that they don't have to play tight end to come to this camp and get something out of it," he said. "We hope to give them pointers on life and lead them to do good in the classroom and stay away from drugs. We hope to make a good influence on them."
   His brother and former Hokie standout Shawn Witten will also be assisting, along with Witten's grandfather and former Elizabethton coaching great Dave Rider and several local coaches and assistants.
   There will be several activities taking place throughout the day.
   Each participant will get a T-shirt and drinks, and will get to participate in an autograph session and earn competition awards.
   The Elizabethton STAR and Steve Grindstaff will help as sponsors for the camp. The STAR will provide T-shirts for the event.
   The younger group will participate from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., while the older group begins at 1:30 p.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m.
   The cost is $30 per person, with a second family member costing $20. Each additional family member is $10.00.
   To register early for the camp, mail an application (including name, age, offensive or defensive position, T-shirt size, emergency phone number and session attending) and a check to Jason Witten Youth Football Camp, 114 Revere Circle, Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643.