Canadian Football League

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Former Canadian Football League player shares his passion with children

Paul Randolph's message is clear with kids this week during the football camp that bears his name: Balance Your Act.
Randolph doesn't want just to produce successful football players at the Randolph Big JK Blue football camp, he also strives to cultivate well-rounded students that will achieve in the classroom.
In fact, Randolph, a 10-year veteran of the Canadian Football League, makes it a camp priority to spend time each day working on academic activities with the 86 kids, who attend third through eighth grade.
That's because Randolph, the defensive coordinator and associate head coach at Rice University, has seen a gap between the football abilities of top prep prospects and their academic background. And, as a Johnson High graduate, he wants to keep kids in Northeast Georgia from falling into that same trap.
"There's definitely the need for the educational component," Randolph said. "It just happens that our avenue to working with the kids is through the game of football."
According to Randolph, kids enjoy the academic activities, including reading, grammar and math, and he uses awards to keep the kids focused on "not letting their minds go idle."
C.W. Davis seventh grader Jeremy Haley appreciates the fact that they make academics the backbone of the camp, as well as helping with football.
"They've helped me a lot with working with decimals," Haley said.
This marks the first time since 2002 that Randolph has been involved with the camp firsthand.
When Randolph started the camp in the spring of 1997, he feared that football in Hall County was on the decline. Yet he knew with his professional football background, it would give him a voice to work with kids.
Randolph uses his own story of growing up locally to help the kids understand that "if I can make it, anyone can."
But while he hopes to instill a sound perspective on what it takes to be successful in football, he's quick to let campers know that becoming a professional player is a long shot at best.
"I want to be a great role model for these young people," Randolph said. "Someone has to make sure they stay encouraged."
But don't be fooled, while academics are a high priority for Randolph, campers from every corner of Hall County still came to "Big Blue" to play football.
According to Randolph, it's a priority to expose young kids to positions on both sides of the football. Players go through drills on both offense and defense to give them a base to grow into better players.
"It's important to teach the fun and the fundamentals involved with football," Randolph added.
Lakeview Academy sixth grader Cody West, 12, has attended the camp the past few summers and has learned everything from throwing and catching, to being a better teammate.
West plays for the West Hall Junior Spartans and says he enjoys playing quarterback, as he likes the responsibility of leading his team.
"They've taken me from being a rock into gold," West said.
The past three seasons, Randolph coached the defensive ends at the University of Alabama, and due to strict guidelines with summer camps as a Southeastern Conference coach, he turned over the administration of the camp to his sister, Angel Randolph.
Despite being more than 800-miles from Oakwood with his coaching responsibilities now at Rice University, Randolph says his ability to run the camp is made possible with the overwhelming support of the community. He also remains encouraged about the direction of football in recent years in Hall County and hopes to see it continue to grow.
"We're trying to train leaders here," Randolph said


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