Colts Team Up With Law Enforcement To Host Youth Football Camp

The Colts reported to training camp at Grand Park in Westfield on Wednesday morning and shortly afterwards, they hit the practice field with cops and kids.

Training camp youth football camp

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard stood on the field at Grand Park in Westfield on Wednesday morning. 

Surrounding him were law enforcement officers from the Indianapolis area and gathered on the field in front of him were kids from Westfield Youth Sports and the Indianapolis Police Athletic League. 

"Thank you for helping us kick off camp. This is a chance for everybody to come together," he said. "That's what sports do – football especially brings us together."

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Next up was Coach Frank Reich.

"This is our first day of training camp 2018 and you're here with us. We're doing this together," he said. "I think it's kind of cool – we've got the police officers, players, all of us working together. Let's all get in here, have some fun, celebrate a little Colts football, and get ready for a great year."

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The kids hit the field with the officers and players, running through drills, high-fiving, and celebrating along the way.

For quarterback Jacoby Brissett, it was the perfect start to training camp.  

"I'm getting a lot of completions out there. So, it's getting my spirits up," he said. "It just puts a lot of things into perspective before we get started. To come out here, put smiles on these kids' faces, and start camp off on the right foot."

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It was also an opportunity for kids to interact with law enforcement in a fun and positive way.

"If you're brought up in a way that you're supposed to fear somebody that's there to help you, it's not going to help either side," said center Ryan Kelly, whose father worked in law enforcement for 30 years. "As a young kid with a young mind, it's just going to form a bigger barrier." 

IndyPAL's mission is to help break down that barrier using sports. They serve kids in underserved communities by offering them opportunities to participate in sports at little to no cost.

"The big three sports are the hooks – that's how you get the kids in," said Major Michael Jefferson with IMPD. "Once you get them in, then you've got an opportunity to talk to them, to get them next to a police officer. You can get next to him and talk to him and humanize the police to the kids and then, you talk to them about life skills, decision-making, conflict resolution and that kind of thing."

The Colts partnered with IMPD to host a youth football camp that encouraged physical activity through non-contact football drills.

Jefferson coached Richard Christian in football through IndyPAL when he was nine years old. Today, Christian is a patrolman himself with IMPD. 

"Especially where I'm from, you don't see a lot of African American officers," he said. "So when you see somebody who's leading by example, who's doing things the right way, it tends to influence you."

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Jake Gilbert, Head Coach of the Westfield Shamrocks Football Team, said football isn't just building a team – it's about building young men. And forming their opinion of law enforcement is part of that process.  

"To use football, a lot of these kids will be leaders – leaders of other men, leaders in their communities, leaders in their schools – and so, if their perception of the police is positive, then I'm sure that will rub off on those who they lead."

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Quarterback Andrew Luck even joined the drills. Afterwards, he offered the kids some words of advice on behalf of himself and his teammates.

"We all played a bunch of sports growing up. So, I would encourage you one, to play a sport as much as you can and two, school leads to amazing places. All of us got to go to college basically for free because we got a scholarship for playing sports. That's a pretty cool deal."

Wednesday's football camp was a pretty cool deal for everyone.

Andrew Luck made a guest appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Colts Youth Football Camp at Grand Park.

"A little exercise, supporting the police, supporting the Colts, and having some fun," said Gilbert.

It was also an exercise in teamwork.

"To succeed as a team or to succeed at anything you do, you've got to do it with other people," Reich said. "You've got to believe in other people, and you've got to help other people out."

The Colts try to help out in the community wherever they can. 

Because they know the community is always there to support them.

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