FAIRFAX, Va.—It’s another scorching summer day—in the mid-90s here, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching the action on the field. Football players between 7 and 18, including at least two girls, are going full-speed ahead, rotating between drills, catching, tackling and route-running—sprinting to the final whistle and earning praise from the crowd.
It’s all par for the course at the annual Brian Orakpo Football Camp, now in its second year at Trinity Christian School near George Mason University. The Pro Bowl outside linebacker for the Washington Redskins takes a hands-on approach to the camp, roaming the field and engaging in friendly banter with the campers while providing detailed football instruction only a star NFL player like him can.
“The most important thing is to have fun,” Orakpo told Pro Player Insiders in an exclusive interview. “With this camp, we go back to the basics and that’s what it’s all about. They’re learning what it takes to take their game to the next level.”
Several of his Redskins teammates have joined Orakpo this week. While he works primarily with the linebackers on footwork, technique and hitting, Leonard Hankerson, Kedric Golston, Lorenzo Alexander and Brandon Banks and Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith all have come out to Orakpo’s camp to show kids the position-specific, necessary tools for success.
“Kids are soaking in all the information they can to get better,” Orakpo said to PPI. “They all present a different challenge each and every day. It’s always fun to work with kids of all different types of ages.”
Originally starting as the Art Monk Football Camp 25 years ago, it’s been inherited throughout the Redskins organization since then. The current version is a full-contact, overnight camp that teaches football fundamentals and new techniques for improvement. The campers, who stay in dorms at adjacent George Mason University, know they’re getting a unique experience when they report for duty each morning. It’s not everyday that you get to learn the ins and outs of the sport you love from one of the NFL’s elite players.
Orakpo’s message: Have fun, work hard, focus on school and use football to help fulfill your dreams.
“We want to shape these young campers into good football players, and hopefully they can take it to the next level,” said George Brown, head camp director and regional marketing director for Sports International.
Friday’s concluding day consists of a final practice with parents watching, a scrimmage and an awards ceremony. Orakpo will present the Brian Orakpo Award to the best overall player, as determined by the high school and college coaches who have been giving instruction all week. Each camper gets a professional photograph with the Redskins star, who also has been signing autographs each day.
“I love teaching the game to young ones because I remember when I was young,” Orakpo said. “I’d always attend any camps around my area because I enjoyed the game of football. I’ve always been interested in doing something in the Redskins community, and I’m excited to let it continue to grow.”
By Khalil Garriott
Camp photos by Khalil Garriott