Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert leads ProCamps event held by Commissary
Story and photos by Matt Decker
More than 120 military children turned out for two days of fun learning basic football skills with Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, during the Proctor and Gamble ProCamps event held Monday and Tuesday at Gerlach Field.
“I get to just hang out and talk to the kids a little bit, walk around and help out with different drills and just having fun,” said Eifert, 27, who is in his sixth year in the NFL.
Eifert, who helps run one camp per year on military installations, said his main objective was for attendees to have fun.
“I just want them to have fun. I want them to know that I used to come to these types of football camps when I was young, too. Hopefully they come away with something from it, and continue to try to get better,” he said.
The event, held by the Fort Leonard Wood Commissary, was provided free of charge for children of active-duty service members, National Guard, Reserve, military retirees or Department of Defense civilian employees.
Divided into teams based on their age group, camp attendees were guided by volunteer coaches who helped them learn to catch, throw, carry and more.
“They have an offensive skill rotation, where they’re going to learn four different offensive skills, including a receiver drill, a running-back drill, a tight-end drill and then another ball-security drill — then they’ll all get to do a quarterback drill,” said Craig James, the camp director with ProCamps.
With temperatures in the mid to high 90s, events were staggered with plenty of time for water breaks in between.
“Our number-one concern is safety,” James told players and many parents in the stands. “You’re going to stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water today.”
Col. Tracy Lanier, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, welcomed attendees, coaches and parents to the installation.
“I want to thank everybody, especially the parents for bringing their kids out for this very special day,” Lanier said. “I also want to thank our commissary, all sponsors, our volunteer coaches, and most of all Tyler for taking time out to bring his services to you.”
Eifert and Lanier presented a signed Cincinnati Bengals helmet to commissary officials, and Eifert signed several footballs and autographs for all camp attendees over the two-day event.
Eifert began his talk with camp-goers by expressing his appreciation for military service members and their families.
“You guys probably think I’m cool because I’m in the NFL. I’d just like to start off by saying, I think your parents are pretty cool,” Eifert said. “For the sacrifices they give for our country, and for your families and the sacrifices you give, I want to say thank you for being here and for everything that you do.”
Eifert also told campers that becoming a professional football player took lots of hard work — the same thing it takes to achieve any dream.
“I didn’t just wake up in the NFL one day; it was something I had to work for,” he said. “I have three younger siblings, and they weren’t really around for the times when I was getting up extra early and putting in the extra work. They just saw where I am now, so I have to constantly remind them that it’s not all fun and games until you get where you want to go. To get there, you have to put in the extra work. For you, it may not be football — but whatever it is, if you want to be great at it, you have to put in the extra work and do the things that no one else is doing.”