Back when he was a standout for Penn Wood High School, Kamar Jorden was looking for any edge to help him take the next step to the college level.
“I went to one camp my senior year,” recalls the Calgary Stampeders receiver. “I was maybe 17 at this point.”
It didn’t take long for Jorden to realize this particular camp wasn’t his ticket to the NCAA.
“At this camp, there was eight-year-olds and nine-year-olds,” laughs the Darby, Penn., native. “I wasn’t supposed to be there.”
Even without guidance, Jorden managed to get the attention of college recruiters – he played at Hudson Valley Community College before making his way to Bowling Green State University, where he was twice a first-team conference all-star. Now he wants to provide opportunities he never had to the next generation of young players in his hometown.
Jorden has established the Darby Youth Football Clinic & Combine, which will make its debut next month. Although he spends much of the winter training in Michigan, he’ll be returning to Pennsylvania for the final weekend of the off-season before reporting to Calgary for training camp.
“The camp is such a big deal for me,” he explains. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have anyone to show me any of that stuff and how to put yourself out there at camps to get noticed. Everything that I did, I learned online and through googling.
“The experience I had when I attended that camp as a high-school senior was just letting me know that when I had a chance to give back to the community, I would provide kids with an idea of what to expect if they were hoping to play college football.”
Oh, and one more thing . . .
“It was a big deal for me to make it a free camp,” he declares, “so there wouldn’t be any excuses for kids to not come out.”
Jorden is actually opening the football clinic to kids aged six to 18, with the older players – 14 to 18 – in a separate group.
“I’m going to run that more like a combine/camp style,” says Jorden. “So run 20-yard dashes, the shuttle, the L-drill, that sort of thing. And then I was going to run some one-on-ones, two-on-twos, seven-on-sevens. Just to familiarize the kids with the circuit they go through when they go to different camps and put themselves out there to hopefully be seen by college coaches.”
Meanwhile, the young’uns will focus on the basics.
“I’m going to be running the youngest kids through drills and giving them an idea of what position they might want to play,” he says. “Then for the 9-13 age group players, we’ll have actual position coaches to teach them little things they may not have known before and try to give them a better idea of how to play the position.”
Plans for the camp have been percolating in his mind for a while.
“It’s something I always wanted to do for my city back home,” says Jorden, who had 42 catches for 580 yards and three touchdowns for the Stamps in 2016. “For maybe the last three years. I just haven’t really been able to go through with it. For me to really get it done, I had to do a lot of legwork. This year, I don’t know, something just kind of snapped in my head to make it happen.
“I really wanted to make it a big community thing. And making it free helps me to reach out to businesses in the area to sponsor the event and be a part of it.
“This is about bringing everybody together. I just feel this is a great opportunity to link everybody up and have them talking to each other and hopefully spark the fire for people to do more stuff in the community. And realizing they don’t necessarily have to spend a whole bunch of money.”
If all goes according to plan, the camp will become an annual event.
“That’s the hope,” nods Jorden. “But first things first – I want to make sure it’s a good camp this year. With the way that I am, I just want everything to look good and official from the flyer and everything else. I did a lot of it myself because I wanted it to look a specific way. It all falls on me on how successful we’ll be.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking because I don’t want to host a bad camp. I’m doing everything I can to make sure it’s a big event that grows every year. That’s definitely my goal.”